FAIRBORN — Law enforcement agencies in Fairborn have protocols in place for active shooter situations in response to the events seen taking place throughout the country.
The first step a responding law enforcement agency must take in that type of event is “neutralize the threat by whatever means necessary,” according to Fairborn Police Department Officer Jim Hardman.
“After we neutralize the threat, our officers [at the Fairborn Police Department] are trained to go through the rest of the procedures — whether that’s administering first aid, evacuating, maintaining a secure perimeter — they’re trained in all that,” he said.” … Our guys are prepared for it to the extent that they can be without having a situation like that happen.”
Hardman and Officer Bill Titley of the Fairborn Police Department have both gone through every nationally accredited active shooter training in the United States, and taught a number of them along the way, including Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT); Law Enforcement Active Shooter Emergency Response (LASER); Raider Solo Engagement Training; Single Officer Response to Active Threat (SORAT) and Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate (ALICE).
The officers additionally co-wrote SORAT, and bring what they know from the training back to the Fairborn Police Department to get each body within the agency on the same page.
Individuals within the Fairborn Police Department went through a combined total of 4,397 hours of training last year, and have each completed courses that could relate to active shooter situations, such as patrol rifle training, use of force policy review, firearm training and qualification, active shooter threat/building searches and improvised explosive device/HEM recognition. The department’s dispatchers have also each completed training in relation to responding to an active shooter situation.
Chief Terry Barlow of the Fairborn Police Department said the agency is as prepared as it can be.
It has also been proactive in planning with the Fairborn City School District for protocols in the event of a mass casualty event.
“We’re the ones who are sworn to protect people, we’re the ones who have body armor, we’re the ones who have training … So it’s a no-brainer — anything I do is better than doing nothing,” Titley said. “We don’t have any discussions with officers where they say ‘that’s stupid, I wouldn’t do that’ — it’s a matter of ‘if it happens, I hope it happens … where we get to do something about it as opposed to not help somebody.’”
Fairborn Police Department officials recognize how Fairborn’s proximity to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Wright State University and the Nutter Center create a potential for an active shooter situation, but officers feel that although no area can say they are particularly ready for such an event, the department’s protocols are in place.
“The evolution [has changed] over the last 10-to-15 years in response to these kinds of events,” Titley said. “It started at Columbine with sitting around, waiting for the SWAT team to get there, then it changed to getting multiple officers together and going in together at the same time.”
“At first there was some resistance nationwide to that thought, but there were a few [events] that happened where an officer was able to save a lot of lives right away,” Titley said. “All of our officers are trained in all that: contain if we need to, send in multiple officers if you have them or go in yourself.”
Departments throughout the county and state can also communicate using the Multi-Agency Radio Communication System (MARCS), which gives law enforcement officials instantaneous communication throughout the state. After a situation is called in, nearby officers would respond first and would receive mutual aid from other agencies as they arrive on the scene.
According to Greene County Sheriff Gene Fischer, local law enforcement officers regularly complete Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate (ALICE) active shooter training for officials at local school systems and have expanded to train some private businesses as well. Through ALICE, trainees learn how to respond to active shooters based on the particular situation and decide to evacuate or lockdown as the situation warrants.
Barlow, Titley and Hardman each recommend that Fairborn citizens practice situational awareness and listening to their gut. If something seems abnormal, don’t hesitate to dial 911.
If an active situation were to arise, Titley and Hardman said individuals should run away in an attempt to remove themselves from the area if they are able, or hide and barricade themselves behind something solid if they are not. As a last resort, individuals can choose to fight the attacker.
“You prepare and train for the worse, but hope for the best,” Barlow said.