Three of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history have occurred in the past year, including one in the state of Texas. Texas A&M and the College Station Police Department are prepared to detect and intervene in an active shooting.
There are several tactics, strategies and trainings in order to protect the students, faculty, staff and visitors on and off campus according to the university’s and local security services. Some of these facets are solely for police, others are for civilians, according to on-campus and city forces.
On Aug. 13, 2012, College Station Constable Brian Bachmann was killed by an active shooter on Fidelity Street, just south of campus. Bachmann was serving an eviction when the renter opened fire and shot the constable, according to Lt. Craig Anderson of the College Station police department.
During what Anderson referred to as the Fidelity shooting, a civilian with a license to concealed carry shot at the active shooter. Anderson said this may have helped contain the shooting, but if this were to occur again, a civilian with a license to concealed carry that tries to contain a threat should be careful when law enforcement arrives.
“The main thing is that when law enforcement shows up, we don’t know who the good person is or who the bad person is, so we tell them to drop the gun or something like that,” Anderson said. “They need to make sure that they don’t take their weapon and point it at law enforcement or something like that, so we’ll know they’re not the bad person. “
Lt. Bobby Richardson of the Texas A&M Police Department suggested the Department of Homeland Security’s run-hide-fight protocol for civilians in the crisis of an active shooter.
“Individuals should move as far away from and or avoid the area,” Richardson said. “If they are located in an area near the incident and cannot safely evacuate, take refuge in an area where they can block the entry and or lock the doors. If multiple people are in the room, spread out and silence all electronics devices . If individuals are unable to evacuate and are placed in imitate danger, they should protect themselves and attempt to incapacitate the perpetrator .”
Anderson said he recommends that civilians stay indoors if possible and empty the streets. This will enable police to identify the threat more easily and contain it.
“When we get there, we’re trying to scan,” Anderson said. “We’re trying to assess the whole situation so the less people that is out on the street, then the less people that will get hurt and then the less people that we would have to scan and assess to see exactly who the threat is.”
Texas A&M police are equipped with physical weapons that can help combat a threat, according to assistant vice president for safety and security Chris Meyer. Meyer listed weapons including side arms, tasers, pepper spray and ASP batons.
“We’re not into buying armored vehicles or anything like that, but we’re trying to equip officers so that they have a choice of weapons, so that they can adequately and appropriately respond whatever the level of threat is,” Meyer said.
Meyer said historically mass shootings are forewarned by communication, including social media. There are specific programs in order to detect and react to any unusual activity.
“It might be that university police need to go visit with them, but we sort of triage that through our special situations team,” Meyer said. “We have several different groups on campus that monitor social media, and so we try to look on many different fronts on how best we can prevent problems from arising.”
No plan in place is necessarily perfect, according to Meyer. The size of A&M’s campus is a factor that prevents any absolute security, he added. Meyer said that it is best that civilians become educated by attending events including campus safety awareness week, which happens at the beginning of September.
“You’re never going to be successful in training everyone,” Meyer said. “That’s why we then fall back to—everyone needs to be mentally prepared and think in advance about what they need to do in event to have violence break out on campus.”