Situations involving "active shooters" and "active threats" are a serious concern for our nation's university and college campuses. Beyond campuses and schools an active threat situation can happen anywhere, including malls, businesses, special events, and within the workplace. The University of Illinois Police Department (UIPD) routinely conducts training internally and with neighboring law enforcement agencies to provide an effective response to active threat situations. The following information is presented to assist members of our campus community with their individual awareness and preparation.
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What is an"active threat?"
An active threat is defined as any incident which, by its deliberate nature, creates an immediate threat or presents an imminent danger to the campus community. In addition to individuals using firearms (active shooters), it is possible for other types of weapons or instruments to be used by offenders who want to cause harm.
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How should I report an active threat (or any emergency on campus)?
All reports of emergencies on campus, life threatening and non-life threatening, should be reported to METCAD by calling 911. METCAD is the dispatching agency for all local emergency responders for our campus.
Once you make contact, be sure you provide the following information:
- Your location;
- Nature of the emergency;
- Information about the emergency, victim, suspect, injuries, or suspicious activity;
- Phone number of the phone you are calling from;
- Your name;
It is important that you remain on the line until METCAD either terminates the call or advises you that you can hang up.
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How will the police respond?
Police response tactics include addressing the threat immediately and taking any actions necessary to neutralize the threat as quickly as possible. The safety of all people involved in an active threat incident is of paramount importance and responding officers may forego assistance to injured parties for the express purpose of meeting and neutralizing the threat, thereby reducing the overall number of casualties.
- University of Illinois Police Department (UIPD) officers will respond immediately.
- UIPD will most likely be assisted by members of other local community law enforcement agencies.
- METCAD will dispatch emergency medical services immediately upon report or confirmation of injuries.
- The Campus Emergency Operations Committee will convene to manage the impacts of the event on the campus community and to lend support and resources to the tactical response agencies.
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How will the campus be informed?
- When adequate and credible information is available, the campus will issue emergency messages to inform the campus and community of the threat and provide as much information as possible. Messaging systems have limitations, so expect to receive abbreviated action steps to take for your personal safety. If you receive a message, share that information with others in your general area. Faculty, staff and students can sign up for the emergency messaging system at https://emergency.illinois.edu.
- The following messaging systems may be used to keep the campus informed during and after the emergency:
- 217-265-UIPD phone message
- Campus phone tree
- UI-7 (cable television channel 7)
- Mass broadcast media such as radio and television
- NOAA weather radio messages
- Notes on the use of cell phones: To increase personal safety and the safety of others, individuals are strongly encouraged to minimize the use of personal cell phones unless it is to report to authorities on the status of the emergency. Mass use of cell phones typically results in system overloads and the general failure of the system until cell phone usage diminishes.
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What security measures are in place on campus?
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is protected and served by a full-time sworn law enforcement agency. Additionally, there are long established relations and mutual aid agreements with the cities of Champaign and Urbana, Champaign County Sheriff's Office, and the Illinois State Police. UIPD also works closely with federal law enforcement agencies. Emergency phones are located around campus both internally and externally to the campus buildings. These can be used to contact the University of Illinois Police Department. For information on emergency phones, visit the Campus Safety page. Campus departments are in the process of developing building emergency action plans to assist and direct their unit's response during a given emergency. More than 1,000 faculty and staff have received training in the incident response and command system protocols of the National Incident Management System (NIMS).
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How can I best protect myself?
The following guidelines are intended to provide information to individuals who have found shelter and/or found themselves engaged in an active threat situation. They are intended to improve both individual and group levels of personal safety.
Active threat situations are very dynamic and they evolve quickly. Individuals need to assess their situation and be prepared to make decisions in a matter of seconds. An active threat situation typically does not last for a long period of time unless it evolves into a hostage situation.
Recommendations for Individual/Group Safety:
- Presence of mind: All people entering classroom and lecture hall facilities (or any mass meeting area or private office) should assess their environment, familiarize themselves with exits, routes of escape, and make a conscious personal decision regarding what their response would be to an incident.
- Remain calm: If you are involved in an active shooter incident, your urge may be to panic. This is completely natural, but if you can resist this temptation, your chances of survival will increase. Tell yourself to remain calm and begin to make decisions based on your personal choices. Preparing for such emergencies even if through mental rehearsal based upon these principles can assist in diminishing panic.
- Call 911 as soon as it is safe to do so.
- Evacuate if possible: If you are indoors and the threat is in your location, evacuate the building by a safe route when it is safe to do so. If it is not possible to evacuate, seek refuge in an area of safety, preferably behind a locked door.
- Shelter in place: If the threat is not in your building or you cannot safetly evacuate, shelter-in-place (secure yourself where you are) immediately. If you must shelter-in-place, secure all doors and windows as quickly as possible and barricade as many items between you and the threat as possible (i.e. tablet arm chairs, tables, cabinets, etc.). The goal is to seal off areas to prevent the intruder access.
- First aid: Render first aid to injured people who may be in or near your area. Do this so long as it is safe to do so.
- Silence: Do not attempt to make contact (verbal or physical) with the individual responsible for the threat unless no other option is available.
- Protect yourself: If you must have contact with the individual posing the threat, attempt to find some cover (solid objects) to place between you and the individual. Minimize the target area by crouching into a position behind solid objects and limit your exposure to the threat.
- Remain secure until police arrive: Once in a secure location, DO NOT open the door for anyone but the police. Before allowing access to the room to anyone, make sure they do not represent a threat to you or others. The attacker may pretend to be an authority or victim to attempt to gain access.
- Let the police do their job: DO NOT approach police officers as they attempt to locate and neutralize the threat. During this time, the officers are trained to seek out and respond to the threat, which could include the use of deadly force. They may not able to assist with the evacuation or provide medical assistance to injured parties. Once the threat has been neutralized, the officers will return immediately to organizing the evacuation of the facility and obtaining or providing emergency medical assistance.
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How can I help prevent an active threat?
- Personal awareness of your surroundings, what is going on around you, the distance to nearby windows and doors will increase your personal safety. If something about your situation does not appear to be "right," be prepared to act in your best interests.
- Monitor others for signs of stress or severe depression. Report any concerns to the appropriate person(s) (i.e. supervisor, resident advisor, teaching assistant, professor, counselor, police officer, etc.).
- Early detection of individuals having personal problems or demonstrating odd or threatening behavior may be the best method for reducing the likelihood of active threat events. The University has exceptional resources to assist people through the Faculty Staff Assistance Program (217-244-5312) or the University of Illinois Psychological Emergency Service (217-244-7911).
- University police officers are available to speak to groups about prevention and mitigation of active shooter/active threat events. To schedule a meeting with your group and an officer, call 217-333-1216.
- Report suspicious activity! If any situation appears odd, "out of place," suspicious, or "makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck," report it immediately to the police by calling 911.
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