Officer urges, plan for an active shooter

November 18, 2018
Dodge County Emergency Management Director Amy Nehls is shown describing a dangerous scenario during a presentation on Situational Awareness for Workplace Violence and Active Threats. The presentation, with the help of Waupun Police/School Liaisson Officer Jason Hraban, was held Wednesday evening at Waupun High School.

WAUPUN — Public safety officials say every place open to the public should have an active shooter response plan.

That was the advice given Wednesday evening by Waupun Police/School Liaison Officer Jason Hraban and Dodge County Emergency Management Director Amy Nehls during a presentation at Waupun High School.

About 30 people attended the Situational Awareness for Workplace Violence and Active Threats presentation. Audience members represented businesses, churches, day care centers and schools. They attended hoping to get insights into how to save lives during what has become an ever-increasing occurrence.

“We live in a great community,” Hraban said. “I would not change a thing about this community. But we live in a violent society. Violence trickles into every aspect of modern living. Hopefully you’ll all leave with some good ideas on how to deal with an active shooter if you ever encounter one.”

A video presentation showed excerpts from news broadcasts and simulating a shooting with details borrowed from actual incidents. Audience members were given the opportunity to leave the room to avoid seeing that Emmy Award winning re-creation, although no one did.

“Pretty damned scary,” one audience member said when asked for a reaction to the simulation.

Hraban indicated that students, officers and medical staff have been trained to “Run, Hide, Fight,” in such situations, although he suggested that running is only useful in situations where one is near a door and in little danger of being shot.

“Nobody can outrun a bullet,” he warned. “And where are you running? Are you running to safety or to your death?”

He indicated that hiding or fighting is the best choice in most situations. He said that in a recent simulation, those who ran were much more likely to be killed than to survive.

“One of those people actually went up to the shooter and asked him what to do,” Hraban said. “In that simulation, the person who ran was shot.

“Active shooter stats are on the rise. This is not going away. I am not here to tell you that you can prevent this from happening. You cannot. We’re always a step behind when it comes to this stuff. You never know when this stuff is going to happen because it’s so random. So get that out of your head.”

He showed photos of mass shooting perpetrators, and pointed out that they all look relatively normal.

“The only thing you should know about these situations is that they all happen very, very quickly,” he said. “They evolve very rapidly and you need to be both physically and mentally ready to deal with it.”

Statistics reveal that 46 percent of active shootings are resolved by police and civilian intervention. Forty percent end in the shooter killing himself. Fourteen percent of the time, a shooter surrenders, and in less than 1 percent of the cases, the attacker fleas.

On average, law enforcement responds in 12.8 minutes. During the Columbine High School shootings in 1999 in Littleton, Colorado, the perpetrators were inside killing other students for 45 minutes.

“Time is definitely the most important thing,” Hraban said. “We no longer wait before we go in.”

The United States leads the world in active shooter events, according to a list compiled in 2013. A total of 729 people were killed or injured in active shootings in 2017.

“We can put together every country on the planet Earth and they wouldn’t reach a quarter of where we are now,” Hraban said. “Not even close. And I guarantee that number is even higher now. That should definitely make you think a little bit.”

Schools used to be the preferred target. That has now changed to include businesses, churches, areas open to pedestrian traffic, open spaces, government buildings, health care facilities and other locations.

“There’s no set of rules for where these things can happen,” Hraban said. “When the shooting occurred in Middleton, I was lying in bed and I looked at my wife and said ‘We’ve got to come up with something to tell people.’ We as law enforcement officers know the dangers to the public, but you don’t. I went to my chief and deputy chief, and that’s why we’re here tonight.”

Four people were injured when a man opened fire in an office in Middleton on Sept. 19. The man, an employee of the business, was then killed in a firefight with police who had responded within 5 minutes.

Hraban also outlined the stages of planning and execution of a mass shooting, along with the idea that details are often leaked to others but are often ignored.

“Social media is huge,” Hraban said. “Pay attention to those things. Do not blow something off thinking that it’s someone talking foolish. Call us. That’s our job. We’re supposed to follow up with things like this and then we can determine whether there’s any credibility or not.

“If you see something, say something. That’s our biggest way to combat these events.”

Nehls shared an emergency response plan, indicating that they are posted in schools and government buildings. She said other places should have a plan as well. Businesses, churches, school and day cares can contact her for a template that can be applied in many environments and situations. To get a copy, send an email to anehls@co.dodge.wi.us or call 920-386-3999.

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