FREE e-Newsletter
Important News - Hot Topics
Get them Now!
Doug  Wyllie

Doug Wyllie

Doug Wyllie has authored more than 1,000 articles and tactical tips aimed at ensuring that police officers are safer and more successful on the streets. Doug is a Western Publishing Association “Maggie Award” winner for Best Regularly Featured Digital Edition Column. He is a member of International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), an Associate Member of the California Peace Officers’ Association (CPOA), and a member of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA).
November 2018 (3)
October 2018 (4)
September 2018 (3)
August 2018 (6)
July 2018 (4)
June 2018 (3)
April 2018 (1)
March 2018 (2)
January 2018 (1)
September 2017 (1)
August 2017 (1)
May 2017 (1)
April 2017 (1)
January 2017 (1)
November 2016 (1)
September 2016 (1)
June 2016 (2)
May 2016 (3)
April 2016 (2)
March 2016 (1)
February 2016 (3)
January 2016 (1)
December 2015 (1)
November 2015 (5)
October 2015 (1)
September 2015 (3)
August 2015 (3)
July 2015 (6)
June 2015 (3)
May 2015 (2)
April 2015 (3)
March 2015 (5)
February 2015 (1)
January 2015 (1)
December 2014 (9)
October 2014 (2)
September 2014 (2)
August 2014 (2)
July 2014 (1)
June 2014 (2)
May 2014 (2)
April 2014 (4)
March 2014 (2)
February 2014 (3)
January 2014 (3)
December 2013 (2)
November 2013 (2)
October 2013 (3)
September 2013 (5)
August 2013 (3)
July 2013 (3)
June 2013 (3)
May 2013 (4)
April 2013 (3)
March 2013 (5)
February 2013 (3)
January 2013 (3)
December 2012 (5)
November 2012 (2)
October 2012 (4)
September 2012 (2)
August 2012 (5)
July 2012 (4)
June 2012 (3)
May 2012 (5)
April 2012 (6)
March 2012 (5)
February 2012 (3)
January 2012 (5)
December 2011 (5)
November 2011 (3)
October 2011 (3)
September 2011 (3)
August 2011 (2)
July 2011 (2)
June 2011 (3)
May 2011 (4)
April 2011 (3)
March 2011 (5)
February 2011 (3)
January 2011 (3)
December 2010 (2)
November 2010 (4)
October 2010 (4)
September 2010 (5)
August 2010 (4)
July 2010 (4)
June 2010 (4)
May 2010 (4)
April 2010 (3)
March 2010 (3)
February 2010 (1)
January 2010 (3)
December 2009 (4)
November 2009 (4)
October 2009 (2)
September 2009 (3)
August 2009 (4)
July 2009 (5)
June 2009 (3)
May 2009 (5)
April 2009 (4)
March 2009 (4)
February 2009 (3)
January 2009 (2)
December 2008 (4)
November 2008 (3)
October 2008 (3)
September 2008 (3)
August 2008 (2)
July 2008 (3)
June 2008 (4)
May 2008 (5)
April 2008 (5)
March 2008 (4)
February 2008 (5)
January 2008 (3)
December 2007 (2)
November 2007 (5)
October 2007 (4)
September 2007 (4)
August 2007 (5)
July 2007 (4)
June 2007 (4)
May 2007 (5)

The Active Shooter: Patrol's Number One Training Concern

With an increase in such attacks, it's essential all patrol officers be ready to engage an active shooter.

March 25, 2010  |  by - Also by this author

"An armed society is a polite society." - Robert Heinlein

I suppose it wouldn't be hard in this day and age to imagine some pre- or post-apocalyptic world populated by rogue gangs descending upon neighborhoods. Something along the lines of what apparently keeps authors like Richard Matheson  and Cormac McCarthy awake at night.

And one day, we may wake to find such things have come to pass. Anymore, about the only thing that would shock the living shit out of me would be world peace.

I do know this much: This is not the world I envisioned as a child.

But of the eventualities that have come to pass, perhaps none are more alarming than the prospect of a mass shooting, be it at a workplace, school, mall, entertainment venue, or place of worship.

For while gang shootings have perennially exacted higher tolls than the mass shooter, the lone shooter leisurely making his way through workplace offices and school hallways will always exact an exponentially higher cost. And unlike the robber who shoots and runs, the lone shooter may very well be on scene at the time of your arrival.

Mass shootings in America are nothing new. In 1949, war veteran Howard Unruh leisurely walked down through his New Jersey neighborhood shooting and killing 13 in what became known as his "walk of death." In 1966 Charles Whitman fired from atop a Texas university tower killing 14 and wounding scores more. In 1973, a military veteran opened fire in Louisiana, killing several cops and civilians.

But whereas such incidents were thankfully few and far between, today they are less unusual. The past three decades have given us increasing numbers of workplace shootings and school massacres. Even daycare centers are not immune from the threat of a homicidal maniac.

While America has had by far the most acknowledged incidents, few countries have been spared. Horror stories can be found in countries like Germany and Australia. And where firearms are not as prevalent, swords and knives have been used with equal efficacy in countries such as Scotland and Japan. Just this week, a man with a knife killed eight elementary children and wounded many more.

Closer to home, an assault on our military by one of its alleged own dominated the headlines this past fall. While his motive was clearly terrorist in intent, his M.O. was not demonstrably different from that of any other disgruntled SOB with a grudge who decides he's going to hell and wants some company to go with him.

Such are the reasons that I believe there is no greater continued threat to you and the community than the active shooter.

Unlike serial killers, there is no established profile. "Loner" doesn't explain away the reasons for these tragedies. Reasons offered range from having been bullied to religious dogma to brain cancer to denied promotions (or denied tenure, as in last month's Alabama professor who shot some colleagues). Whatever the catalyst, the bottom line is that there will continue to be those who will occasionally go out like James Huberty and "hunt humans."

The case for the hunter becoming the hunted will, often, come down to you, the patrol officer. You will be the last line of defense for those who are coming under attack. And whether it's a single gunman, the tandem likes of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, or some Beslan-like attack, you may well find yourself the first officer on scene.

Will you be psychologically and logistically prepared to engage? Will you have the requisite training and physicality with which to persevere? Will you be able to deal with whatever form the aftermath takes?

These are questions that each officer should ask of themselves, and their employers should ask on their behalf.

Awhile back, the Department of Homeland Security asked science fiction authors to act as consultants in anticipating possible terrorist situations. What they were coveting was their imagination: the ability to think outside the box and come up with innovative scenarios.

You need to be equally creative. Think outside the box. I still wonder how those two SOBs would've fared in their ballistic garb if some cop had scaled atop that North Hollywood bank and tossed a Molotov cocktail on their asses. What vehicles or weapons might you commandeer?

Consider the implications of the man who fired on two Pentagon police officers before being taken out by a third. What if he'd succeeded in gaining access to occupied rooms? What would you do? Rush in after him? Wait for additional shots to be fired?

I was never really enamored of stationary targets. With the exception of those who have some sort of death wish, I have rarely seen armed suspects remain in one spot while engaging officers. True, they might even move toward the officers, but the fact remains they move. And to paraphrase Bruce Lee, targets don't shoot back.

While I'm not a huge fan of "The Way of the Gun," I thought it did a better than average job of showing the difficulties of engaging armed opponents. As the final firefight progresses, people repeatedly miss, obliging the shooters to re-load, move, and take cover.

Such are the reasons why Hogan's Alley shooting ranges, simulators, and role plays with paint guns are more effective, particularly when one factors in the fact that the vast majority of officer-involved shootings take place in much closer quarters and in conditions that are decidedly different than "ready on the left, ready on the right, all ready on the firing line."

If you have the warrior mindset that is prone to go out and practice your shooting anyway, I'm preaching to the choir.

But if you're the guy who really hopes that he never has to have another's life on his conscience, then I suggest that you hit the range with greater frequency than you're probably inclined to.

For reverence for human life includes our own, and if the day comes when you're incapable of taking the necessary shot and someone else dies because of it, how will you deal with your conscience then?

Comments (1)

Displaying 1 - 1 of 1

dep2386 @ 3/30/2010 5:14 PM


I have responded to five hurricane deployments. These include Andrew and Katrina. I have learned two things. The first is when the electricity and the water stops. Our society is about five minutes from the dark ages. The second is the most important people in a disaster area is the power company people. When the lights began to work and the A.C. is cranking things calm down.

If the balloon goes up, you will be dealing with a lot of armed, desparate people. We need to be ready to protect our families

Unfortunately, I forsee some very dark and troubling times on the horizon.

Join the Discussion

POLICE Magazine does not tolerate comments that include profanity, personal attacks or antisocial behavior (such as "spamming" or "trolling"). This and other inappropriate content or material will be removed. We reserve the right to block any user who violates this, including removing all content posted by that user.

Other Recent Blog Posts

Recharging Your Batteries: The Benefits of "Unplugging"
There is certainly benefit to being current on events involving the people you consider...
Speaking on the Unspeakable: Ending the Pandemic of Police Officer Suicide
I've talked with officers who have lost a colleague to suicide—as well as many widows of...

Police Magazine