UW-Madison updates active shooter tactics

UW-Madison updates active shooter tactics

University of Wisconsin-Madison officials and police are updating their active shooter tactics in response to the massacre in Orlando over the weekend.

“It’s just another horrific example of extremism, hate in our country,” UW-Madison Police Chief Sue Riseling said.

Riseling first started preparing for a mass violence situation on campus almost 20 years ago when a gunman opened fire in Columbine High School.

“It’s almost now, unfortunately, ubiquitous with our society,” Riseling said.

Riseling has been recognized nationally for her active shooter response tactics. The department first created a video educating students and staff of what to do in a situation following the massacre at Virginia Tech.

This spring, Riseling said her team revisited that video and its website for active shooter response and updated the guidance they are offering to the university community and beyond. The new approach focuses on three simple steps for survival: run, hide and fight.

“If you can get out, get out. Once you’ve gotten out, then dial 911. If you can’t get out, hide. Barricade yourself, find a place of relative security, then call 911,” Riseling said. “But if push comes to shove and it’s just there and you cannot run or hide, you’re going to have to fight.”

Riseling stresses the steps she teaches staff and students can be used outside of a campus community. She said whether you’re in an office building, a movie theater, a classroom, or a church, the same principles apply. That said, Riseling said it won’t end with a proper response just in Madison.

“A university can’t really do it and just seal itself somehow from the rest of the country, from the rest of the world because the more targets you harden, then the others look to be even more vulnerable,” Riseling said.

Riseling said her team keeps changing its strategies, especially in light of high-powered weapons and their growing use in mass shooting situations.

“That’s what is making this even more difficult to respond to is the amount of bullets, the amount of ammunition that can be dispensed very, very quickly,” Riseling said.

UW-Madison police offer active shooter response training to the university community. You can find an application at go.wisc.edu/activeshooter.

“We’re going to have to figure out a better balance of how do we balance security needs with the rights of gun owners, with the rights of people to celebrate, to party, to live as Americans,” Riseling said. “So I think this is going to be a very difficult challenge for our country.”