Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events: Tips to keep the public safe

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PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. – Being prepared and knowing what to do when a critical situation like an active shooter happens can greatly increase your chances of survival. That was the theme behind a public forum put on by the Kent County Sheriff’s Office Wednesday night.

Following the Florida school shooting, interests in classes like these have been in high demand.

Wednesday’s class at Plainfield Township Hall focused on what to do if the worst case scenario happens.

It’s called the ‘Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events’ and law enforcement says they’ve learned a lot on what not do from past shootings like the one in Columbine in 1999.

During that tragedy, teachers advised students to hide under tables and did not try to barricade the doors. Deputies teaching the class say that’s not how they recommend handling an active shooter situation.

Instead they say the first thing you should do is get out as soon as possible, rather than hide and hope for the best.

If that’s not possible, they want you to deny the shooter access to you, barricade the door if possible.

“One of the things we try to teach is to teach is A.D.D. Avoid, Deny, Defend. So, if you can avoid that situation you need to get out of that situation. If you cannot, then we want you to deny them access to you. Barricade the doors, find exits out of windows. Deny that person access to you. And if those two fail we want you to defend. We don’t want you to hide and cover and think the incident is going to go away. That’s not the right strategy we want, you do have the right to defend yourself. And at that point that’s what you need to do. Do what you can to survive,” says Mandy Trevino with the Kent County Sheriff’s Office.

The class also taught participants how to handle other critical situations like fires and advised people to know your exits and find alternative ways to leave other than the way you came in.

“The exit signs. As Scouts we are always supposed to be prepared. And when the officer brought up are you aware of where the exits are and I was one who didn’t know. And I thought it was great that they also combined it with fire hazards and the loss of life that can happen for people not prepared in those," says Dan Miller, Scout Master, Troop 373 Comstock Park.

Kent County deputies also say their school resource officers are trained to go in and engage a shooter and not wait for back up.

These classes are taught once a month at various locations.

The next one is April 10th at Alpine Township. To RSVP send an email to mandy.trevino@kentcountymi.gov  as space is limited. You can also contact the Sheriff's Office at 616-632-6400.

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