Ac­tive shooter train­ing teaches tools for sur­vival

The Times-Tribune - - Local / State - BY CLAY­TON OVER

STAFF WRITER JESSUP — Act­ing Moosic po­lice Sgt. James Decker stood in the Lack­awanna County 911 cen­ter Tues­day night and read in­for­ma­tion from sev­eral slides on ac­tive shooter sit­u­a­tions across the coun­try.

A movie theater in Colorado. A col­lege cam­pus in Vir­ginia. A con­cert in Ne­vada. A church in Texas. A su­per­vi­sors meet­ing in Ross Twp., Mon­roe County. A gro­cery store in Eaton Twp., Wy­oming County.

“It can hap­pen any­where,” Decker said. “It can hap­pen in your back­yard. It can hap­pen some­place to­mor­row.”

Decker, com­man­der of the Lack­awanna County SWAT Team, was one of the speak­ers at a sem­i­nar Tues­day meant to ed­u­cate the pub­lic on what to do should the un­think­able hap­pen. County of­fi­cials de­cided to hold ac­tive shooter train­ing for the pub­lic in light of re­cent mass shoot­ings na­tion­wide, Lack­awanna County Emer­gency Ser­vices Di­rec­tor David Hahn said. About 20 peo­ple at­tended Tues­day’s sem­i­nar.

Re­ac­tion to an ac­tive shooter can be boiled down to three re­sponses: avoid, deny and de­fend, Decker said.

The best course of ac­tion is al­ways to avoid the shooter by get­ting away from them, Decker said. Peo­ple should be aware of pri­mary ex­its, get out and call 911 only when they are in a safe place to do so, he said.

Should some­one not be able to leave, the next course of ac­tion should be to deny the shooter easy ac­cess to the

room you’re in by lock­ing the door and bar­ri­cad­ing it with ob­jects, the heav­ier the bet­ter, Decker said. Peo­ple should also turn out the lights, si­lence their phones, any­thing to make the shooter think no one is inside, he said.

Only as a last re­sort should peo­ple phys­i­cally con­front a shooter and de­fend them­selves, Decker said.

When po­lice ar­rive on scene, peo­ple should obey their com­mands and keep their hands up, Decker said.

Of­fi­cers also spoke about mea­sures the pub­lic can take to pre­vent an ac­tive shoot­ing sit­u­a­tion, namely by speak­ing up if some­one is show­ing in­di­ca­tors of vi­o­lent be­hav­ior. Most ac­tive shoot­ers have some con­nec­tion to the lo­ca­tion and the peo­ple where the shoot­ing takes place, Decker said.

“If you know some­body is off or you have an inkling … that some­body is not right and some­one is ripe for be­ing a per­son who com­mits this act of vi­o­lence, you have to say some­thing,” Scran­ton po­lice Sgt. Thomas Car­roll said. “Why wait un­til you’re re­act­ing to it when you can do it up front?”

The county will hold a sim­i­lar sem­i­nar at the 911 cen­ter in the spring, Hahn said. The one held Tues­day night will be avail­able on the Elec­tric City Tele­vi­sion YouTube chan­nel by this morn­ing and will also be avail­able on the county web­site. Con­tact the writer: cover@timessham­rock.com; 570-348-9100 x5363; @Clay­tonOver on Twit­ter

‘It can hap­pen any­where. It can hap­pen in your back­yard. It can hap­pen some­place to­mor­row.’ James Decker Act­ing Moosic po­lice sergeant

CLAY­TON OVER / STAFF PHOTO

Lack­awanna County SWAT Team Com­man­der James Decker speaks dur­ing a pub­lic ac­tive shooter train­ing sem­i­nar Tues­day at the Lack­awanna County 911 cen­ter.

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