UMD to host active shooter and violent event training session

 Photo by Tyler Schendel.

Photo by Tyler Schendel.

With yet another recent school shooting making headlines across the world, in which a gunman killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, many local schools and community members are continuing to make efforts to ensure the safety of their students, faculty and staff. On Tuesday, February 20, the UMD Police Department will host FBI Special Agent Wayne Kauffmann in the Kirby Student Center Ballroom at 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Kauffmann will provide information on how to physically and mentally prepare yourself for a violent event on campus.

Kauffmann is a certified law enforcement instructor with 20 years of FBI experience and nine years of experience with the U.S. Marshals Service. He is also a former assistant team leader on the FBI’s SWAT team and he currently instructs federal, state and local law enforcement agencies on the use of tactical firearm skills, defensive tactics and active threat response.

 Sgt. Michael Brostrom said that the run, hide, fight model will be one of the focuses of the active threat seminar. Photo by Tyler Schendel.

Sgt. Michael Brostrom said that the run, hide, fight model will be one of the focuses of the active threat seminar. Photo by Tyler Schendel.

Sgt. Michael Brostrom, who has been at the UMD Police Department for over 13 years, says that the university has offered training sessions like these to students, faculty and staff for as long as he has been at UMD.

“Given the increase in the active shooter and active threat events, we have offered more training, our officers have had more training,” Brostrom said. “Even today we’re dealing with the active threat incidents.”

According to Brostrom, one of the main lessons that will be taught at the two seminars will be to run, hide or fight, which has become a common defense mechanism that is taught in the case of an active threat. When faced with an active threat, the first thing people are encouraged to do is run away from the situation.

“If you hear gun fire and it’s safe to do so, get out of the building, get out of the area, get as far away as you can,” Brostrom said. “If you don’t feel it’s safe, then the next best thing that you can do is hide. If all else fails, the last resort you have would be to fight and at that point, you’re fighting for your life, so run, hide, fight are the three takeaways that we want everybody to get out of these classes that we do.”

 Sgt. Chris Shovein said that the extensive training with Duluth police officers has helped prepare UMDPD for the possibility of an active threat. Photo by Tyler Schendel.

Sgt. Chris Shovein said that the extensive training with Duluth police officers has helped prepare UMDPD for the possibility of an active threat. Photo by Tyler Schendel.

Sgt. Chris Shovein, who has been working at the UMD Police Department for over 18 years, said that the run, hide, fight idea is a good model to follow in a violent threat situation because of the effects that stress can have on people when they’re in such a situation.

“That’s one that we use and teach people to use and follow along, it’s a good model, it’s simple, it’s easy to remember,” Shovein said. “Anything we can do to help overall, stress does crazy things to us.”

In addition to the run, hide, fight model, the training seminars will also teach people how to mentally prepare for a violent event. This includes being aware of your surroundings, making mental notes of where exits are located and where the easiest escape points can be found.

“I think for most people, it doesn’t matter what you’re doing, if you’re studying, if you’re working at your desk, sometimes we’re just kind of in the moment,” Brostrom said. “But if you take a moment, have you looked at where the exits are? Mentally we want people to think, what if something happened? We just want people to get in that mindset. We don’t want people to be paranoid, we just want them to be prepared.”

Both Brostrom and Shovein have taken federal law enforcement training sessions to be instructors on how to respond to an active threat so that they could show other cops what they learned. The extra training the officers have gone through shows the initiative that UMD has when it comes to preparing its officers for any violent incident. In addition, the police department at UMD also has a working relationship with the Duluth Police Department, which would be available to assist UMD’s police officers in the event of an active threat.

Shovein said that the UMD Police Department often trains with the officers in the surrounding area so that they can be as prepared as possible to work together to respond to any threat.

“That’s another preparation piece, having those good relationships and working with these people,” Shovein said. “We’ll train things with Duluth or St. Louis County [police], just getting to know each other, know what to expect and knowing that you can count on those guys to come back you up, and when you have good preparation and good help, then things get taken care of a little better and that’s just all part of the system in place.”

Overall, Brostrom feels that UMD would be well-prepared to defend the campus from an active threat because of their extensive training in how to defend against such an attacker.

“I would put us right up there as being some of the better prepared as far as colleges and universities go,” Brostrom said. “We’re a small department, we do a lot of training, I think that based on that training that we’ve got, we would be able to effectively respond to one of these and do what we needed to do to stop that shooter.”

NewsTyler Schendel