Aug. 28, 2008
UI Police offer guidelines for responding to 'active shooter' situations
University of Iowa Police have issued new safety guidelines to help members of the campus community better identify, report and respond to incidents involving armed subjects, particularly so-called "active shooters."
The guidelines -- at http://www.uiowa.edu/~pubsfty/activeshooter.htm -- define an active shooter as "a person who appears to be actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area; in most cases, active shooters use firearm(s) and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims."
Charles Green, associate vice president and director of the UI Department of Public Safety, said law enforcement officials must work quickly to stop a shooting and prevent or minimize harm to innocent victims. He said this can be challenging because these incidents tend to be dynamic and evolve rapidly.
"It is an unfortunate reality that in our society we must be concerned about the possibility of someone using a firearm to harm members of the university community," Green said in a mass email to faculty, staff and students Thursday. "Across the country, educational institutions are attempting to prepare for such events by establishing multiple methods of emergency communications, police response, threat assessment and campus wide training. The guidelines provide information to our UI community on how to respond in an 'active shooter' situation and represent a compilation of information gathered from several different sources including lessons learned from recent high-profile campus shooting events."
Since the UI implemented the Hawk Alert system a year ago it has sent out an "active shooter" message to the campus just once, in March, after police found a family murdered on the east side of Iowa City. Initial reports suggested the suspect had used a gun to commit the crime before fleeing the scene in a vehicle, although this later proved not to be the case.
"Although we hope we will never need such information, we do encourage everyone to familiarize themselves with the guidelines and to keep a copy handy," Green said. "Our plans and procedures will continue to evolve as we integrate new knowledge and experience from many disciplines and experts who are working to prevent, mitigate or eliminate the tragic consequences of this particular type of crime."
In the meantime, Green urged people aware of an individual expressing a desire or plan to commit a violent act, or whose behavior suggests some violent action is possible or imminent, to contact the UI Police Department at 319-335-5022, or 911 in an emergency.
Other campus resources for non-emergency guidance include the University Counseling Service, open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, at 319-335-7294; or Human Resources-Behavior Risk Management, open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, at 319-335-2085 (the number is staffed around the clock).
Even if in doubt, Green said, faculty, staff and students should feel free to report troubling behavior to authorities.
"We would rather investigate reports that turn out to be of no consequence than to find out too late that someone had pertinent information and failed to report it," he said.