Law enforcement response to mass shootings has evolved over the years

COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) -The Virginia Beach mass shooting is the latest massacre to shake up the country.

Unfortunately, it’s one of many that’s helped teach first responders better ways to respond in these types of emergencies.

On Monday, Columbus Police Chief Fred Shelton explained what you need to know if there’s an active shooter in your workplace.

On Wednesday, he talked about how law enforcement responds to them and how the 1999 Columbine Shooting changed that.

Unfortunately, the words ‘active shooter’ has become almost too common as mass shootings continue to rise.

Law enforcement and first responders have had to change their tactics and their training to meet the challenge.

CPD Chief Fred Shelton said the 1999 Columbine Massacre was the catalyst for that change.

“We learned from the Columbine Shooting that until the police secure the scene and we stop the shooter, emergency services are not going to come. The ambulance and the fire department, they are not coming in, until we neutralize the threat and so the sooner we can neutralize that, the better we can be to help people.”

That tragic shooting also developed something you now see in schools, which also helps law enforcement to better respond.

“I have the right number, okay, because I am looking from the outside in, so I need to know if there is a shooting in room 102. Where is room 102? But again, and now, that was one of the things that they found out from because there were people that died because nobody knew where they were at.”

Shelton said since EMS aren’t allowed in until the threat is cleared, knowing CPR and basic first aid is very important in these instances.

“With our S.O.R.T. teams now, we kind of adopted it after the military, we have a medic with us and of course, this person is going through the building with us. He is with us, he doesn’t have weapons, but he is going through with us and if we come upon a person that needs help, he can do a quick triage, put a Band-Aid on and we keep moving.”

Shelton said if you ever find yourself in an active shooting situation and you can’t get out, then there are ways to protect yourself, on top of ways that you can help emergency responders.

One includes calling 911 on your phone and leaving the line open for dispatchers so they relay what they’re hearing to responders.

If you are able to escape, you can still help law enforcement by being a good eye witness.

“As emergency responders respond, you can tell us and give us good intel on what is happening, so because again, it’s really important that we get the information before we come in because again, we need to know what I am dealing with. If I have a guy that has an AK-47 and he’s firing off, quite naturally, I’m not going to come in there with my handgun, I need something else.”

Shelton said it’s also important for law enforcement to know the layouts and floor plans of businesses and schools in their areas.

The Columbus Police Department does this and also makes contact with people of the businesses, so they know them and vice versa.

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