SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – The first officers at Sandy Hook Elementary School Friday were ordered to go immediately inside and use a tactic called “active shooter.”
“Newtown police, immediately upon arrival, entered the school and began a complete active shooter search at the building,” Lt. Paul Vance, Connecticut State Police, said.
The strategy is a complete reversal from the police response to the Columbine shooting in 1999.
“Columbine was the wake-up call for law enforcement in the United States,” retired Sacramento police Lt. John Kane, D-Prep managing director, said.
At Columbine, officers waited 45 minutes to enter the school. It possibly cost lives, and at least one victim bled to death.
“So from that point onwards in law enforcement, small, large, everybody, started practicing active shooter teams,” said Kane.
Kane wrote a book on critical incident response and the active shooter tactic.
“From our perspective, the biggest thing we learned is these are quick rapid, horrible events that are over in three, five, 10 minutes,” said Kane.
Officers are now instructed to go towards the sounds of active shooters.
“Even at the risk of the officer’s life, the officer’s job is to stand between people who would do us harm, and innocent people,” said Kane.
The strategy was used during the Virginia Tech shooting, and in the Oregon mall shooting. Once the shooter is stopped, rescue and evacuation begins.
“Cause the entire school basically is a crime scene, how to move those children out of that school and get the reunified with their parents. And at the same simultaneous time, try and identify the children and figure out how are we going to properly notify those parents,” said Kane.
It’s the modern-day American law enforcement strategy, the plan to deal with the unthinkable.