by Scott on July 3, 2009
This article is a continuation of the Solo Officer Entry for Active Shooters: Ron Borsch Q&A Part 1. In it Ron discusses his strategy and research for single officer entry during active killers.
At the end of the article there are links for further reading about Ron’s strategy and tactics for active killers as well as his bio.
Q. What is the most important training for 1st responders to understand?
A. 1st responding officers needs to understand that the rogue human shooting people is NOT a “Rambo”. Empowering information for the 1st responder is the Demystification of the active killer. That is to say that we have probable cause from the active killers tracking history to know that they act ALONE (98%), are COWARDLY, (selecting the defenseless), that after achieving their sick “body-count statement”, they are SUICIDAL (90%), and that the murderer is in a preoccupied race to complete his evil plan BEFORE police can arrive and “hurt” them.
Q. We know the active killer is dangerous to the defenseless. How dangerous is he to responding officers?
A. Generally speaking, on a 1 to 10 scale of dangerous man with gun calls that law enforcement faces, the active killer would rarely rate as high as even a 5. When officers have arrived before the killer commits suicide, he is likely to, and has shot at the police. Until the Nursing Home rapid mass murder of the elderly, (Carthage NC 032909), no responding officer in the USA had been wounded or killed by an active killer.
(Carthage PD officer Justin Garner was treated and released for three shotgun pellet wounds in the leg/foot area). This brave young officer acted SOLO, and got one of the best police hits yet on an active killer, upper chest, stopping any further murder of the elderly and disabled there.
Q. How does a 1st responding officer know he has a rapid mass murder incident?
A. He or she is NOT likely to know, (possibly even after first entering the location). As you might imagine, an excited person reporting to police may only communicate that a person is suspected of having a gun, has, a gun, is shooting, Etc. Details and intelligence given is likely to be closer to a worst-case communications scenario, including dispatching of cruisers and inter-car radio traffic.
The important consideration is that if the notification gives police probable cause to believe innocent lives may be in jeopardy, to respond as if there is an active killer on premises. Law enforcement officers do not have to be right, they have only to be reasonable and in these cases, we MAY only have precious few golden minutes to act.
Q. What does your term “Multi-tiered” in the SOLO Officer Response mean?
A. Multi-tiered means that there will be many SOLO officer’s involved, typically arriving at different times from different locations. The 1st Police Responder/s have a virtual guarantee that an “avalanche” of backup is coming, (smaller and slower backup avalanche in a rural area).
Backup and mutual aid however, are moot points, considering the rapidness of these mass murder incidents. What is urgently needed is the “sharp tip of the spear”, a SOLO officer LOCATING and stopping the murderer. Police have only been able to stop rapid mass murder in about 25% of the aborts. Of the few police aborts, the majority, (66%), has been initially or completely by a SOLO officer.
Q. What does your term “Multi-directional” SOLO Officer Response mean?
A. Locating the murderer is a big problem. “Flooding” the facility with the eyes and ears of 1st Responder’s all gathering intelligence will facilitate locating. (Even when a precise location is reported, it is historical, (time-sensitive), as in that was where the killer WAS, not where is he now. In a huge facility where rapid mass murder has been occurring, and the fact that shots may NOT be heard inside unless you are close enough, there is an enormous amount of ground to cover.
When it is possible to enter from different entrances, officers should do so. If for example, the same entrance has to be used, these facilities often present immediate alternate directions, such as straight, left, right, upstairs and downstairs. The 1st responding officer should of course go in the best direction known to him.
Q. What about normally locked, or in the case of Virginia Tech, intentionally locked, (by the active killer) doors?
A. Our academy stresses Breaking and Entering as “Plan B”. Every cruiser should have Glass Break & Rake tool, which can be as minimal as a 2 or 3-foot length of steel pipe. The first arriving cruiser parks under a window closest to the door that the officer intends to enter. If the door is locked, he has choices. One choice is return to the car, obtain the break and rake tool, stand on the hood trunk or cruiser roof, and enter through the window. Another option, especially in the case of glass doors, is to use the cruiser as a battering ram to break and enter the doors. The officer must be thinking “No one keeps me out of an active murder scene, I am getting in fast somehow”!
Officers should have agency approval encouraging aggressive breaking and entering when reasonable. The schools and workplaces should be made to understand that police CAN’T respect unintentional barriers to saving lives. These facilities should have a plan that whenever they have an emergency lock-down, (for compartmentalization which can mitigate injury and death), their plan should call for unlocking exterior doors for arriving rescuers.
Q. What about “Friendly-Fire” issues?
A. This is a very important safety issue, When criticizing the multiple solo officer approach, tactical ideologues and obstructionists often refer to a “Blue-on-Blue” violation, (surprised, one officer unintentionally firing at another officer), they have neglected to recognize the real problem. The real problem is of course the potential of friendly fire on numerous panicked innocents, (how many people in these facilities?).
Professional discriminating officers, (decision trained in Shoot-Don’t shoot scenarios), need to expect surprises! Discriminating between someone conspicuously uniformed like yourself and the sudden appearance of a panicked innocent stranger is easy. All of these suggestions are intended for the motor-skill domain, which requires Frequent & Recent Training and practice, with occasional dress rehearsals. PLAN YOUR WORK AND WORK YOUR PLAN!
Q. Do these SOLO Officer/s search rooms?
A. NO! Not without good reason, is the short answer, as there is quite simply, NO TIME! For example, huge facilities may have hundreds of rooms. If the solo officers were to squander their time, (absent the probable cause of contact clues), by a quick check using only 5 seconds per room, only 25 rooms would unnecessarily consume TWO “Golden Minutes” of opportunityHALLWAYS in search of LOCATING the killer, or at least discovering contact clues. which could have been used to cover much more ground in the
Q. What is the solo 1st responders goal?
A. The primary job of the FIRST of the 1st responders is to STOP–THE-KILLING. The solo officer’s are rapidly covering ground in a huge facility hunting contact clues. Contact clues are “SIGHT – SOUND – SMELL – INTELL and INTUITION. Intuition should he trusted and not be underestimated. Intuition is the totality of your senses, training, and experience on a sub-conscious fast track that you may be unable to articulate later why you did or did not do something.
Responding only to these contact clues, any entry into a room is done rapidly. The goal is dynamic movement and speed as a self-protective tactic, “rebooting” a killer’s OODA Loop, (Observe-Orient-Decide-Act), buying you time to get on target. Should the room NOT be occupied by the killer, the objective is to depart within a 5-second time frame. If the room had only innocents, the objective would be a fast track on any useable intelligence.
Any searching that needs to be done is already a delegated responsibility. Conventional training has a follow-up plan called the SEARCH & RESCUE Team, which eventually harnesses the later “no-shortage-of-manpower” backup and mutual aid.
Q. Hallways are the solo officer’ main focus?
A. Yes, always in search of the mentioned contact clues for probable cause to go anywhere else, Our academy trains with repetitive “Touch & Go” drills in the hallways and stairs of a school. (Similar to airplane pilot training where students focus on repetitively practicing landing and take offs).
During the touch & go drills, we practice rapid “Slicing-the-pie” and “Zig-Zag” tactics with protective scanning and “Look-backs”, (as a field expedient substitute for a rear guard). Of course there are obstacles of simulated bodies, and other challenges introduced to simulate stress, as the students progress through their guided self-discovery using Blue Safety training long guns and handguns.
Q. The Search & Rescue team seems quite self-explanatory, is it?
A. Yes! Our take on the search and rescue component, (for the 98% alone active killer), is to incorporate Para-Medics from the Fire Department. Here, the primary goal of the search and rescue team is to “STOP-THE- BLEEDING” of the wounded innocents, searching is secondary. Absent any intelligence on wounded people’s location, the Search and Rescue team’s path would be starting their searching at the same location the 1st of the first responding SOLO officers went.
Typically, police officers are neither trained nor equipped for the “Stop the Bleeding” function, as well as the Para-Medics. In this capacity, police officers would primarily be BODYGUARDS for the Para-Medics. Our suggestions are four police officers for every pair of Para-Medics.
Update: Here is another question that Ron added.
Q. What kind of equipment should the 1st of the first responders have?
A. SPEED is the primary ingredient, meaning that the 1st of the first responders should go with what they are already wearing, and a patrol rifle. (Every little bit of time adds up, patrol rifles need to be mounted within lunge distance to the driver). . Because time is less critical to the eventual follow-up search and rescue team, they can and should have shields. The best types permit shooting, (pistol or rifle), with both hands. They can also wear helmets and carry “Go-Bags” containing such things as extra ammunition.
Ron Borsch is the manager and lead trainer at the post-graduate SEALE Regional Training Academy, in Bedford Ohio. A U.S. Army Viet Nam veteran, (101st Airborne), Ron is a commissioned Consultant-Trainer with Bedford Police Department, semi-retired after a 30 year career as a patrol officer, SWAT team operator-trainer, Rangemaster, Pistol Team Captain, and Active Arrest motor skills instructor.
Since 2000, he has specialized in teaching tactics to police first responder counter-measures for the active killer, in his “Tactical 1st Responder” course. Ron has become one of the foremost advocates for the SOLO officer countermeasure. He has defined and coined the terms: “Active Killer”, “The Stopwatch of Death” ©; “Golden Minutes”; “Multi-tiered / Multi-directional Solo Officer Responses”, and; “Tactical Loitering” for his Tactical First Responder courses.
Ron has also served as a paid consultant-evaluator for police departments during their dress rehearsal responses inside schools, (mass-murder by active shooter). He was also a keynote speaker for the “The Final Option” at the Minnesota 2008 Chiefs of Police Association Fall School Safety conference.
Posted with permission from Spartan Cops from the post “Solo Officer Entry For Active Shooters: Ron Borsch Q&A Part 2.” Please visit that blog for more law enforcement blog content. ###