University Police

Response to a Critical Incident Situation

In teaching Response to Critical Incidents, the University Police Department follows the recommendation of the Federal Bureau of Investigation by teaching the Avoid, Deny, and Defend techniques.

These techniques and information were chosen for their simplicity and ease of learning, but also because no one answer is correct for every individual that may be on or near our campus in the event of a critical situation such as an active shooter.  Individuals must make the determination of what course of action provides them the best chance of survival for an incident of this nature.

What You Do Matters

AVOID: AVOID starts with your state of mind. Pay attention to your surroundings. Have an exit plan. Move away from the source of the threat as quickly as possible. The more distance and barriers between you and the threat, the better.

DENY: DENY when getting away is difficult or may be impossible. Keep distance between you and the threat. Create barriers to prevent or slow the threat from getting to you. Turn the lights off. Remain out of sight and quiet by hiding behind large objects and silencing your phone.

DEFEND: DEFEND because you have the right to protect yourself. If you cannot Avoid or Deny, be prepared to defend yourself. Be aggressive and committed to your actions. Do not fight fairly. THIS IS ABOUT SURVIVAL.

The FBI recommends watching the following video which provides more details about surviving an active shooter event using the AVOID, DENY, DEFEND method:

Characteristics of an Active Shooter

  • Active shooters usually focus on assaulting persons with whom they come into contact. Their intention to cause bodily harm is usually an expression of hatred or rage rather than the commission of a crime.
  • An active shooter is likely to engage more than one target. Active shooters may be intent on killing numerous people as quickly as possible.
  • Generally the first indication of the presence of an active shooter is when they begin their assault.
  • Active shooters usually go to locations where potential victims are numerous and easily accessible, such as cafeterias, classrooms, and libraries.
  • Active shooters may be indiscriminate in their violence or they may seek specific targets. Active shooters usually have some degree of familiarity with the location they choose for the assault.
  • Historically, active shooters have not attempted to hide their identity or conceal the commission of their attacks. Escape from law enforcement is usually not a priority of the active shooter as they may be suicidal, deciding to die in the course of their actions, either at the hands of law enforcement or in a self-inflicted manner.

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