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Active shooter training

In light of recent active shooter situations, the Department of Public Safety would like to remind you of training opportunities.

By Janelle Hanson, communications specialist, University Marketing and Communications

With recent active shooter situations around the country fresh on the minds of our campus community, the Department of Public Safety would like to remind you about a video the university offers to help prepare for such emergencies.

“If an active shooter enters your area on campus, it will be unlike any situation you have ever experienced and in those initial heart-stopping moments, it will only involve you, other students, faculty and the shooter,” said Jim Sporleder, director of the Center for Personal Protection & Safety. “The bottom line is you’ll need to take direct responsibility for your personal safety and security. You must develop a survival mindset.”

The survival mindset will help you act quickly and effectively and includes:

  • Awareness – Taking the time to understand the situation
  • Preparation – Asking “what if” questions to develop effective response strategies
  • Rehearsal – Practicing response plans

It’s crucial for everyone on campus to be prepared for this type of situation and think beforehand about how to access the situation and decide what the best course of action is:

  • Get out: Can you safely escape?
    • Get out as quickly as possible
    • Leave belongings behind
  • Hide out: Is there a good place to hide? Find somewhere that can provide protection and avoid getting trapped in an area.
    • Find a room that locks
    • Blockade the door
    • Be silent
    • Turn off items that could make noise and alert the shooter and silence your cellphone
    • Don’t huddle together – people huddling together make for an easier target
  • Take out: Will you take out the shooter?
    • Spread out
    • Make a plan
    • Act as a team
    • Total commitment to action
    • Do whatever necessary

These events don’t have a pattern, don’t make any sense and can happen anywhere,” said Dale Brophy, chief of police and director of public safety for University of Utah Department of Public Safety. “That said, being paranoid and paralyzed by fear is not healthy. We simply want people to be aware, be prepared and know what to do to help themselves. This allows people to react much quicker and minimizes the phase of inaction and disbelief.”

For more information on being prepared in the event of an active shooter on campus, please watch this video on the U’s Emergency Management’s website.

In addition to being prepared, being vigilant about your surroundings and speaking up when you see something out of place, may prevent these events from occurring in the first place. The DPS 24-hour dispatch center can be reached at 801-585-COPS (2677).

A great source of emergency information on campus is the U Heads Up! app. Users are able to get quick information on what to do in emergencies, upload a photo or comment letting emergency management know about your safety concerns.

Also, public safety has started a community outreach program using select police officers to teach various hour-long courses on active shooters, workplace violence, new student orientation and others. The university has a goal to provide 200 campus presentations in 2016, helping students, faculty and staff be ready in the event of a crisis.

Contact Sgt. Garth Smith to set up a training. He can be reached at or 801-585-1194. And follow Brophy’s advice to “be proactive and seek knowledge about events that may one day impact your life. Don’t be fearful, be knowledgeable and prepared.”