Active Shooter Awareness & Preparation

Events of the past years have called attention to the need to be prepared for a wide range of emergencies. The tragedies at Virginia Tech, and Sandy Hook have caused campuses across the country to reassess their level of preparedness. The Florida International University Police Department is committed to continuously training our officers to respond to all types of critical incidents, including active shooters.

The awareness and preparedness of members of our community is equally important. We present this information for your use and distribution.

If you witness any suspicious activity on campus at any time, immediately contact University Police at 305-348-5911 or dial 9-1-1. Please remember “if you see something say something.”

Safety guidelines for active shooter situations on campus.

This document provides guidance to faculty, staff, and students who may be caught in an active shooter situation, and describes what to expect from responding law enforcement officers. If you witness any armed individual on campus at any time or if an individual is acting in a hostile or belligerent manner, immediately follow the steps outlined below and contact the University Police at (305) 348-5911 or dial 9-1-1. Please remember the 9-1-1 system, as well as cell phone systems, may become overwhelmed. If you try to contact police and are unsuccessful, continue to follow the steps outlined below and continue trying.

Below are links to guides provided by the United States Department of Homeland Security. They are guidelines for action should you find yourself in an active shooter situation. Please feel free to print them for your personal reference or to share them with other students, faculty, staff members, or anyone you think may benefit from having this information.

What is an “active shooter?”

An active shooter is a person or persons who appear to be actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in populated areas on campus. In most cases active shooters use firearm(s) and display no pattern or method for selection of their victims. In some cases active shooters use other weapons and/or improvised explosive devices to cause additional victimization and act as an impediment to law enforcement and emergency services responders. These improvised explosive devices may detonate immediately, have delayed detonation fuses, or may detonate on contact.

What makes an active shooter situation different from a hostage or barricaded subject situation?

Active shooter situations are dynamic and evolve rapidly, demanding immediate response by the community and immediate deployment of law enforcement resources to stop the shooting and prevent further harm to the community.

Hostage or barricaded subject situations often take place over a longer period of time, and usually there is no ongoing injury or loss of life. These situations are often managed through the deployment of specialized units, as time allows. Both hostage and barricaded subject situations can rapidly shift to active shooter situations, and vice versa.

In general, how you respond to an active shooter will be dictated by the specific circumstances of the encounter. Quickly determine the most reasonable way to protect your own life. Remember that students, customers, and clients are likely to follow the lead of faculty and staff during an active shooter situation.

If you find yourself involved in an active shooter situation, try to remain calm and call 9-1-1 or University Police at (305) 348-5911, as soon as possible.

How to respond when an active shooter is in your vicinity?

If an active shooter is outside your building or inside the building you are in, you should:

  1. Run.
    If there is an accessible escape path, attempt to evacuate the premises. Be sure to:• Have an escape route and plan in mind.
    • Evacuate regardless of whether others agree to follow.
    • Leave your belongings behind.
    • Help others escape, if possible.
    • Prevent individuals from entering an area where the active shooter may be.
    • Keep your hands visible.
    • Follow the instructions of any police officers.
    • Do not attempt to move wounded people.
    • Call 9-1-1 or University Police at (305) 348-5911, when you are safe.
  2. Hide.
    If evacuation is not possible, find a place to hide where the active shooter is less likely to find you. Your hiding place should:• Be out of the active shooter’s view.
    • Provide protection if shots are fired in your direction (i.e., an office with a closed and locked door).
    • Not trap you or restrict your options for movement. To prevent an active shooter from entering your hiding place:
    • Lock the door.
    • Blockade the door with heavy furniture. If the active shooter is nearby:
    • Lock the door.
    • Silence your cell phone and/or pager.
    • Turn off any source of noise (i.e., radios, televisions).
    • Hide behind large items (i.e., cabinets, desks).
    • Remain quiet. If evacuation and hiding out are not possible:
    • Remain calm.
    • Dial University Police at (305) 348-5911 or 9-1-1, if possible, to alert police to the active shooter’s location.
    • If you cannot speak, leave the line open and allow the dispatcher to listen.
  3. Fight.
    Take action against the active shooter as a last resort, and only when your life is in imminent danger, attempt to disrupt and/or incapacitate the active shooter by:• Acting as aggressively as possible against him/her.
    • Throwing items and improvising weapons.
    • Yelling.
    • Committing to your actions.

What additional information will law enforcement be looking for?

  • If you are able to see the offender(s), give a description of the persons(s) sex, race, clothing, type of weapon(s), location last seen, direction of travel, and identity if known.
  • If you observed any victims, give a description of the location and number of victims.
  • If you observed any suspicious devices (improvised explosive devices), provide the location seen and a description, if possible.
  • If you heard any explosions, provide a description and location.

What else should I look for?

  • Do not respond to voice commands until you can verify with certainty that they are being issued by a law enforcement officer or university official; unfamiliar voices may be an active shooter trying to lure you from safety.
  • Attempts to rescue people should only be attempted, if it can be accomplished without further endangering the persons inside a secured area.
  • Depending on circumstances, consideration may also be given to exiting ground floor windows as safely and quietly as possible.

What should I expect from responding officers?

The objective of responding law enforcement officers are to immediately engage or contain the active shooter(s) in order to stop life threatening behavior.

  • Officers usually arrive in teams of more than one officer.
  • Officers may wear regular patrol uniforms or external bulletproof vests, Kevlar helmets, and other tactical equipment.
  • Officers may be armed with rifles, shotguns, handguns.
  • Officers may use pepper spray or tear gas to help control the situation.
  • Officers may speak sternly, shout commands, and may push individuals to the ground for their safety.

How to react when law enforcement arrives:

  • Remain calm, and follow officers’ instructions.
  • Put down any items in your hands (i.e., bags, jackets).
  • Immediately raise hands and spread fingers.
  • Keep hands visible at all times.
  • Avoid making quick movements toward officers such as holding on to them for safety.
  • Avoid pointing, screaming and/or yelling.
  • Do not stop to ask officers for help or direction when evacuating, just proceed in the direction from which officers are entering the premises.

Information to provide to law enforcement or 911 operators:

  • Location of the active shooter.
  • Number of shooters, if more than one.
  • Physical description of shooter(s).
  • Number and type of weapons held by the shooter(s).
  • Identify threats such as improvised explosive devices .

The first officers to arrive to the scene will not stop to help injured persons. Expect rescue teams comprised of additional officers and emergency medical personnel to follow the initial officers. These rescue teams will treat and remove any injured persons. They may also call upon able-bodied individuals to assist in removing the wounded from the premises.

Once you have reached a safe location or an assembly point, you will likely be held in that area by law enforcement until the situation is under control, and all witnesses have been identified and questioned. Do not leave until law enforcement authorities have instructed you to do so.

(Reference: United States Department of Homeland Security website,