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Preparing for an Active Shooter Situation at UC Davis

UC Davis Police used the 1999 high school shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado as a model for how to best prepare.

Just the thought of an active shooter situation can make some cringe, but the UC Davis Police Department is stressing training over just plain fear.

Last Thursday, UC Davis held an open Active Shooter Survival Workshop, which we highlighted earlier this fall. The theme of the night was preparation.

UC Davis Police Chief Matthew Carmichael led the 90-minute training, with assistance from the Aggie Host Security Service’s Ben McNulty and Student Affairs Officer Michael Valenzuela. Carmichael said the training definitely gets participants to pause and think about how to be ready in case of a mass shooting. He said it’s important to share as much information as possible with students to prepare them.

Carmichael suggested having pre-plan strategies for survival such as exiting the danger area as soon as possible, keeping low to the ground and covering or playing dead. He advised those stuck in buildings to barricade or lock doors and said that trying to overpower the suspect is a last-resort option. 

Police used the 1999 high school shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado as a model for how to best prepare, playing 911 tapes from the incident. The police chief said the recordings were a prime example of why police now have tactical dispatchers who encourage victims to take immediate action to prevent more deaths.

During the 911 recording of a teacher at Columbine, Chief Carmichael said the dispatcher should have advised the teacher to take control of the situation rather than mainly on trying to keep her calm.

Carmichael told the audience that survival and success in these dangerous situations requires confidence, faith, commitment, following police direction and continuing to provide information to the police.  

Police used unloaded guns that have been seized on campus over the past 15 years to share tactics on how to disable suspects and even prevent them from shooting.

Police department videos showed a contact team entering an office building during an active shooter situation. The team located the suspect, neutralized the threat, secured the scene and located booby traps.

UC Davis student and Taekwondo black belt Alexander Nguyen said he chose to attend the training because he believes everyone should know the basics of self-defense and readiness.

“The presentation was simple and provided some common sense reactions,” Nguyen said. “I would go again.”

At the event, the police department recommended taking classes in first aid and self-defense training.

The workshop was the first of two open-campus active shooter trainings to be held this school year. The police have offered presentations to faculty, staff and students on preparations for shootings since 2007.

For more information on preparation for active shooter situations, visit the Department of Homeland Security's website.

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