Avoid. Deny. Defend. Remembering those three words — and acting on them — are still key in helping you make it out of an active attack situation, Gainesville Police Chief Kevin Phillips says.
An active attack event is when someone tries to “kill as many people as they can” be it in a mass shooting, stabbing or other means of violence, Phillips said.
From 2000 to 2017, there have been 280 active attacks across the United States, according to information provided by Phillips.
“That doesn’t include everything, obviously,” Phillips said, adding that the Columbine massacre was in 1999 and the attack in El Paso was just last weekend.
On Saturday, Aug. 3, a lone gunman killed 22 people and injured many others at a Walmart in El Paso. Six days before the El Paso attack — on July 28 — a gunman killed three people and wounded at least a dozen others before shooting himself at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in Gilroy, California. The day after the El Paso shooting, a gunman in Dayton, Ohio, killed nine before police stopped him.
During an interview Friday, Aug. 9, Phillips said the police department has five trainers who can meet with the public and teach a free Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events (CRASE) class using curriculum developed by the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Program at Texas State University.
The presentation’s main focus is on active shooter events and covers the “Avoid. Deny. Defend.” method, Phillips said. However, the approach is broadly relevant, he noted.
“The concepts that are trained could work in a variety of situations,” Phillips, who has been teaching since 2012, said. “What you do matters. Refuse to be [in] a victim mindset.”
During a presentation Phillips gave at Temple Baptist Church in 2017, he told a room of about 100 people that the first step in an active shooter situation is to avoid the attacker. If the threat cannot be avoided, then deny the attacker by barricading in a room and turning out the lights. If an escape of any kind is not a viable option or doesn’t work out, then go into attack mode to defend.
Phillips said no one has reached out to the department about a class since the most recent attacks, but he does want the public to know they are available for any size group. He did say he thinks smaller groups get more out of the hour-and-a-half presentation because they have more one-on-one time for questions.
ALERRT has been working with law enforcement since 2002 to help them respond and quickly address active attack situations, according to Phillips. When CRASE came about, it was to “buy us time to get there to address the issue,” he said.
Texas Highway Patrol Staff Sgt. Mark Tackett said the Texas Department of Public Safety also offers free CRASE presentations.
Tackett, who has been teaching the training for about a year and a half, said even though the presentation’s name zooms in on active shooters, it’s for “any type of bad situation.”
“It’s always important to stay alert and be prepared to defend yourself and others in any situation,” Tackett, a DPS spokesman, said.
Phillips recommends people at least watch an 11-and-a-half minute video by ALERRT if they don’t have time to attend a CRASE training session. The video is below:
“If you haven’t prepared yourself, prepare,” Phillips said. “It’s important for them [the public] to understand what they do really does make a difference.”
For more information or to schedule a CRASE presentation, contact Phillips by phone by calling GPD at 940-668-7777 or by email at Kphillips@gvps.org. Tackett can be reached at email@example.com.