The Bexley Police Department's Aug. 7 information session on how to respond to active shooters in public places was scheduled before the recent mass shootings that took place Aug. 3 in El Paso and Aug. 4 in Dayton, but those tragedies have highlighted the importance of public awareness about how to prevent and respond to such incidents, Bexley police officer Jeremy Grimes said.
Grimes offered tips to about 60 people at the Bexley Public Library on how to stay safe when a shooter begins firing at people in offices, shopping centers and other public facilities.
"Don't live in fear," he said. "We can overcome that by being prepared."
The first line of defense, Grimes said, is to practice vigilance at all times and look for entrances and exits in the event that a quick escape is necessary. He said the public should learn to spot aggressive or unusual behavior, such as someone, in warm weather, wearing a bulky jacket or trench coat, which could conceal weapons.
He urged people to call the police if someone looks suspicious or if danger signs arise.
"Pay attention to your surroundings," Grimes said. "Look a little deeper, wherever you're at."
Law enforcement also recommends the public take training in self-defense, first-aid and "self-aid," Grimes said.
"Learn how to take care of yourself. Learn how to apply a tourniquet to yourself," he said. "In the event that something happens, you have to take care of yourself before you can take care of anyone else."
In active-shooter situations, Grimes said, people should choose between the best of three options: run, hide or fight. People first should attempt to flee the scene, he said. If escape isn't possible, the next option is to hide behind furniture or objects that would block the shooter's view. In the first two scenarios, people who have safely escaped or hidden should communicate with law enforcement silently, such as texting 911 and/or posting the location of the incident on social media and tagging police.
The last resort, Grimes said, is to locate an object that could be used as a weapon, such as a fire extinguisher, a piece of furniture or any item that could immobilize the shooter until law enforcement arrives.
"These guys are not scared to die; they're scared to fail," Grimes said of perpetrators who engage in mass shootings. "And they fail when you ruin their plan or the police show up and ruin their plan."
Grimes urged citizens to stay informed about potential threats by signing up for local alerts such as the BexAlert Active Notification System, which can be accessed at bexley.org/bexalert, and the Alert Franklin County Emergency Notification System at alertfranklincounty.org.
For more information about preparing for an active-shooter situation, visit Ready.gov and enter the search term "active shooter."