When police responded to a call of a man attacking pedestrians with a butcher knife on the campus of Ohio State University, they did so without hesitation.
The attack sent nine people to the hospital, including one person who had life-threatening injuries. The officer’s rapid response may have prevented more people from being hurt.
“Our officers were on the scene in less than a minute and ended it in less than a minute. He engaged the suspect and he eliminated the threat,” said Craig Stone, deputy police chief for OSU.
That rapid response reflects the active shooter training done by law enforcement agencies across the country.
“Columbine, I think, was pretty much a watershed moment for the country and for law enforcement, and that’s when things really began to take shape -- doing active shooter drills and response drills -- and it changed the way law enforcement responded,” said Susan Riseling, executive director of the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators.
Riseling, the former chief of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Police Department, instituted active shooter training for officers. It is training police do in hopes that they will never need to use it.
“It used to be we used to show up, make a perimeter and wait for special weapons and tactical teams to get there and then we came forward with the idea of rapid response, and that’s what we see today -- very small groups of police officers forming up and going right into danger and confronting the shooter so that you have a minimization of the damage the shooter can do,” Riseling said.
Over the years, law enforcement agencies have learned lessons from active shooter situations, but they are not the only ones modifying their actions based on history.
“I think you are always in a learning mode because as we adapt, the shooters, unfortunately, adapt in the way they are going to make their attacks. Most of the shooters actually study the previous shootings and then they try to perfect their carnage,” Riseling said.