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University Police teach community what to do in case of an active shooter

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How prepared would you be if an active shooter attacked our campus?

That’s exactly what Lt. Steven Grassmann of the University Police Department asked a room of 18 people last Thursday during an active shooter training event.

Thursday’s program was one of many CRASE, or citizen response to an active shooter, sessions that UPD offers to university students, faculty and staff.

An active shooter can engage in various types of lethal force not limited to guns. This includes actively killing or attempting to kill people in a confined area using knives, bombs, and even vehicles.

The average time of an active shooter event is 12 minutes. While the average response time of UPD is four minutes, response time to an active shooter may be a bit longer. Some officers are already out on patrol but those that are not, need time to put on proper gear and grab extra weapons, in addition to the time that it takes to get to the event. Unfortunately, 55 percent of attacks end pre-police intervention.

“The event may be close to over by the time we get here, so what you guys do is what matters,” Lieutenant Grassmann revealed, “The university wants as many people trained in this because we [UPD] need help, we can’t do it alone.”

Statistically, schools and universities are the number two most common locations of active shooter events, while places of commerce, such as malls, are number one.

Lieutenant Grassmann urged his audience to break out of the habit of behavioral scripts, the act of following a sequence of expected behaviors in our everyday lives. These scripts are acquired through habit and routine.

“Who takes the same route from work every single day?” Grassmann asked, to which most hands in the room came up. “If you don’t mental script certain things, you’re going to have problems in the case of an emergency. Try at some point to take a different route home… what if the road is blocked in your usual route, for all the what if’s try to practice going out of your routine.”

Mental scripting is the process of developing possibly dangerous or distressing scenarios and coming up alternative methods so that you can more effectively react if faced with such a situation.

Lieutenant Grassman suggested that students practice exiting a lecture center classroom with two doors through both of the doors so that in the scenario that an entrance is blocked during an active shooter event, students can be more prepared.

When it comes to the tunnels, he recommended trying different routes as well.

“Take a left instead of your usual right, take those stairs and see where they go, you’re going to pop out somewhere,” Grassman said.

“I attended this program because I had a strong interest in it, and I knew that I had the capability of helping others because of my physical strength,” Sharyar Khan, a sophomore at UAlbany, explained at the end of the session. “This course helped me understand that it’s more than strength, it’s more of a logical coordinated effort rather than an individual decision. However, it taught me how to be a leader if an active shooter situation occurred.”

Just remember, if you think you’re going to die there is a good chance you may end up that way. However, it is all about mindset. According to Lieutenant Grassman, if you think that you’re going to survive and shift your emotion to that thought, and you take action, your chances of survival are much higher.

Michelle Mullen is a staff writer for the Albany Student Press.

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