LPD Provides Mass Shooting Seminar

How many of us who have flown in a commercial airliner since 9/11 hasn’t given thought to what they could or could not do if their plane was hijacked by terrorists? Fewer of us, have also considered alternatives to a course of action if an armed maniac opened fire in a theater or in our workplace. Just as we can look for fire exits in a building, with the rise in mass shootings in the country, some people and police departments are developing a pro-active agenda for future safety measures. 

The Lamar Police Department has developed a training film entitled, “Response to an Active Shooter” which is being viewed by the staff at Prowers Medical Center. One showing was held this past Friday and another session will be held this week. There are plans to make the film and the accompanying discussion available to employers, either at a business or at a community showing for the general public.

The film, presented by Detective David Reid and Lamar Police Chief Gary McCrea, provides a brief outline of mass shootings in America since World War II. Chief McCrea said a mass shooting is defined as an incident resulting with multiple victims of gun violence when at least four unarmed people are killed. In 2012, there were 60 mass shootings, including the Newtown, Connecticut massacre, the latest incident which sparked gun safety and gun control discussions in Washington, DC.

Some of the more notorious mass shootings of the past 60 years were highlighted. Some general commonalities were discussed such as age and race of the shooter which is a 35 year old white male and weapon of choice, which has been handguns. The youngest mass shooter in America was 11 who targeted some of his fellow students who were in a prayer circle at school. Mass shootings peaked in 1929 during the ‘gangster’ era in the country, and dropped off in the 2000 decade. Lamar came close to a mass shooting in 1928 with the Fleagle gang bank robbery. Although four people died, two on one day and two the next, some of those victims were armed.  General statistics show the rate of crime is decreasing across the country.

Mass shootings are the fourth largest cause of death in the workplace. Half of the mass shootings take place in schools or in a business and most are caused by a need for revenge on the part of the shooter, or family or job issues, or they just want to ‘get back’ at the ‘system’ or society. McCrea and Reid said that there are not enough documented profiles to indicate a set pattern of behavior which could help identify a probable mass shooting suspect.

McCrea described three options open to persons who are subject to a mass shooting in an enclosed area such as an office or business. “You can evacuate the building as quickly and safely as possible, alerting as many people as you can to drop what they’re doing and get out, if you can’t exist the building you can hide, preferable in a room with two entrances and lock the doors, or if all else fails, you can be prepared to fight,” he explained. PMC employees said there is a general code that is broadcast throughout the hospital to alert to an emergency, but some medical providers expressed concern about not being able to evacuate bed-ridden patients. Chief McCrea said that instance translates into a very hard choice, “You have to realize that you can stay with your patient, but if they can’t be moved safely and quickly, you’re probably not going to be able to save them and will die in the process.”

One segment of the film showed some basic options of how to offer some resistance to a mass shooter if you and several people are trapped in a room. An instructor in the Israeli armed forces demonstrated some self defense and some offensive maneuvers several people could use to overpower and disarm an attacker as they entered a room. Karen Bryant, Chief Operations Officer at Prowers Medical Center said a safety committee would meet to identify and assess risk factors at the hospital and take steps to inform employees of the options they develop.

Prowers Medical Center is a gun-free zone, but allowing trained employees who have a concealed carry permit to bring a weapon to the hospital could be discussed. Chief McCrea said he and Lamar Police Lieutenant Miller conduct private concealed carry classes which are made available to those residents who wish to obtain one from the Prowers County Sheriff’s Department.

By Russ Baldwin


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