In Pennsylvania’s Blue Mountain School District, teachers filled buckets with river rocks and placed them by classroom doors so the class could pelt intruders with stones.
The frenzy caused a policy created in 2012 by the City of Houston as a personal emergency procedure for active shooter situations to gain popularity. This policy is called Run, Hide, Fight.
The first step is to run — escape the situation and get as far away as possible. If escape is unachievable, a person moves to step two — hide. And if confrontation is unavoidable, the final step is to physically fight the shooter.
The Department of Homeland Security has also officially named this program the national policy for active shooters in public places.
Many schools around the nation have adopted this policy as their official active shooter procedure and teach it to their students, including the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Hassan Ramzah, the assistant chief of police for the UNL Police Department, said the policy is clear and helpful, but it’s not meant to cover every possible situation that may arise.
“[Run, Hide, Fight] gives people in the campus community procedures to follow if they are in a situation with an immediate threat on campus,” he said. “But it is not meant to encompass every scenario.”
Not everyone is convinced that Run, Hide, Fight is adequate or even practical to help students survive active shooter situations.
Doug Haines — the owner and CEO of Haines Security Solutions and a winner of a 2017 ASTORS Homeland Security Award — said current classrooms are not built for hiding. He thinks the policy should be reworked to focus on running.
“What I’ve noticed is that although Run, Hide, Fight is a good idea on the surface, the reality is that the training actually teaches people to hide,” he said “It doesn’t teach people to run, and the training really should be about figuring out a way to get out of the space.”
Marc Warburton, the director of the National Security Education Program in UNL’s political science department, said the university could be taking more preemptive measures, like ensuring there are locks on classroom doors and allowing concealed carry.
“I’ve never seen any actual data on [Run, Hide, Fight]. It’s hard to think of any other strategy, other than allowing concealed carry on campus, which is currently illegal,” Warburton said. “There is one other strategy which, as far as I know, the university doesn’t support — putting locks on the classroom doors. That’s pretty much a no-brainer, but I don’t see the university doing that.”
Nora Furr, a sophomore undeclared major, said UNL should be less focused on a policy like Run, Hide, Fight to cope with an active shooter, and more focused on preventative measures.
“There should be more policies preventing school shooters, rather than just having some system on how to protect against,” she said. “If you see an active shooter, you’re not going to be like ‘Wait, let me think about that one three-word policy.’”
This article was originally published in the April/May 2019 special edition of The DN.