February 23, 2019  

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Preparation for Active Shooter Situations Focus of AOP-sponsored Presentation

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USM Police Officer Kenny Woodard discusses how to prepare for an active shooter event during a presentation July 26 on the Hattiesburg campus. The event was sponsored by the USM chapter of the Association of Office Professionals (USM photo by Kelly Dunn).

Ultimately, it’s your responsibility – and right – to defend yourself in an active shooter situation.

That was a key message of a presentation given July 26 by University of Southern Mississippi (USM) Police Officer Kenneth Woodard on the subject, sponsored by USM’s chapter of the Association of Office Professionals (AOP). The event was held in Cook Library on the Hattiesburg campus and open to members of the university community.

Woodard’s presentation was based on the Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events (CRASE) program, which is built on the Avoid/Run, Deny, Defend (ADD) strategy developed by the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) Center at Texas State University and supported by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Woodard covered the program’s topics that included the history and prevalence of active shooter events, civilian response options, medical issues, and considerations for conducting drills.

A 30-year veteran of law enforcement who joined the USM University Police Department (UPD) in 2007, Woodard said until law enforcement arrives at an active shooter scene, it’s important to know in advance how to protect yourself and others when the incident begins.

The 1999 Columbine (Colo.) High School massacre in which 13 people were killed and many more wounded in an active shooter event was ultimately the impetus for the law enforcement community to development strategies specific to this kind of event, Woodard said. He cited location awareness, advance knowledge of facility exits, entrances, how to lock doors or the best ways to barricade these passageways to protect against an assailant or assailants – and survive – among other strategies in his presentation.

UPD offers by request free facility security assessments for campus units to help employees, students, visitors at the university be ready in case an active shooter situation occurs.   

“What you do matters, and everyone can do something,” Woodard said. “And if we can save one life, then everything we do through this program is worth it.”

Learn more about CRASE at https://alerrt.org/page/CivilianResponse. To report suspicious activity to the Southern Miss University Police Department, call 601.266.4986.