ACTIVE SHOOTER – Stoneman Douglas High School

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ACTIVE SHOOTER – Stoneman Douglas High School


Robert C. Smith, CEO Nightclub Security Consultants

It is 535pm on Wednesday, February 14, 2018.  Right now there are 17 dead at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.  The majority of the dead are students; just kids beginning their life.

I am writing in hopes to both VENT my frustration to this terrible event and offer another approach.  As a police officer and the CEO of my security consulting company, I don’t simply complain, I try to always offer a solution to a problem I find.  It may not be the best or correct solution but I’m trying to solve the problem.  Let me explain….

At the time of the Columbine High School murders in April 1999, I was a police officer in San Diego.  Within days of this terrible event, law enforcement officers across the country were given new guidelines on how to approach an Active Shooter event on a school campus and elsewhere.

There would be no more waiting for SWAT to save the day; instead, the first two officers arriving were to unite, quickly prepare and enter to engage the shooter in hopes of stopping additional killing innocent people.  This was a great first step.

Within a few months of Columbine, my partner and I were tasked with implementing training programs at or elementary, middle and high schools in our patrol division surrounding School Lock Down Drills.

We trained kindergarten to senior high students, teachers, custodians, office staff and all other employees in all the most cutting edge protocol; Run if you can, if not, shelter in place by entering any room, locking the door, turning off the lights and hiding against the wall away from the entry door.  This was another great second step.

In these next few paragraphs, I will offer up another possible solution to help limit the death of kids, students and their teachers.  And, the consequence of offering this training could change our daily lives in many different ways.  Some may not like my proposed solution… fine, what’s your solution, BESIDES more guns?

Understand me before I start please.  I know the problem, I know the issues, I know what the complaints will be, I know what the statistics show and I know the history of these terrible events in our schools across the United States.  People, these events are not going away by continuing to teach our students and school staff to RUN, HIDE and wait for the police to save you.  We must change our mindset.

As I write this, I’m listening to the talking head “Experts” on television parrot the same old tired and unsuccessful lyrics about the why and how.  I know these words have to be said, but doing the same thing that does nothing to change these events are simply empty words.

The solution I’m offering is simple; we must drastically change the mindset surrounding the training (or lack of training) our children and adults receive on how to react during an Active Shooter incident.  We must teach our children and Adults how to FIGHT or Attack.

The RUN-HIDE-FIGHT mantra has been used, taught and practices for several years now.  It’s being used and taught by law enforcement across the country and even around the world.  That final word, that one word; “FIGHT” is critical to understand my proposed solution.

FIGHT or Attack, as used in this phrase means that if RUNNING and HIDING is impossible, then, as a last option only, we must start teaching our children and adults to FIGHT, to Attack.. AND, to fight with anger because their life truly depends on it.

As I said in the beginning, I know many won’t like my proposed solution, no problem, but please consider this.  If we start teaching school children how to FIGHT or Attack, they will carry these skills and lessons into their teen years, their young adult years and beyond.  And, if we continue this type of calculated training as they progress into senior high school, these children will get better and smarter at this new life saving training point.

Mind you, I don’t mean to suggest we teach Judo or MMA Fighting to children.  I mean that we should teach our students that fighting back is an option.  I mean that we teach students that over 60% of Active Shooters end their carnage before police arrive.  And, nearly 15% of all Active Shooting events ended by unarmed civilians.  We teach our children the power they have in numbers and that shooters don’t normally stop until their truly confronted by any sort of adversary.

Consider that if we started teaching our teachers, their aids and administrators about fighting back.  Consider what three schoolteachers could do when a lone gunman enters the campus and passes their room while firing down the hallway at children.  Fighting and Attacking from these trained teachers would most absolutely save lives.

Consider this training solution and realize the power there is in numbers, even teenagers.  Imagine five 16-year-olds running and jumping on the back of a shooter as he’s focused on killing other children in the cafeteria.  They jump on him, grab the gun and hold the single 16-year-old shooter… instead of hiding in a classroom closet.

Consider three 18-year-olds, all who have received appropriate training.  They are at a local theater watching a movie when a shooting erupts.  They Hide and then at the correct moment, leap on the gunman to disable and disarm the gunman, stopping his rampage.

Consider fifteen, separate, 24, 25 & 26-year-olds in a nightclub having drinks or dancing, when a long gunman enters near closing time to kill as many guests as he can.  The fifteen guests, all of whom have received years of training on Active Shooter event response, attack, as a single team of civilians to grab the gunman as he stops to reload his AR15 automatic rifle.  The guests actions end the murder spree after only 10 people are wounded, instead of allowing the shooter to continue to shoot, reload, move, reload and kill 50 guests.

Consider the lives that might be saved if we decide to accept that we will never be able to stop additional Active Shooter events.  Consider the lives that might be saved if we start training our school children and those we asked to teach them that RUN and HIDE can work, but that by adding one more, already known element; FIGHT or Attack.

We must stop waiting for law enforcement to come save “Us”.  They would if they could.  We must accept our role in attempting to stop an Active Shooter, as dangerous as it might seem and actually be.  We must, simply consider, adding in appropriate training for our children that can also help all the other efforts to keep our schools, churches, hotels, malls, theaters and everywhere else safe.

Just my two cents on the terrible tragedy unfolding in Florida.  Could this training approach save lives; YES.  Could someone die trying; YES.  Does anyone else have ideas… other than more guns?

Robert C. Smith – CEO/President, Nightclub Security Consultants

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