Kilgore Police Department is urging local citizens to prepare a plan in the event they find themselves threatened by a dangerous attacker.
On Thursday, KPD Officer Todd Nault visited Kilgore Lions Club to share information about “Avoid – Deny – Defend”, an active threat response program developed by the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) Program at Texas State University.
Nault said the program was developed to help people respond when in danger from an attacker intent on killing or injuring large numbers of people in a confined or populated area.
“The means of people trying to hurt people now is not just guns. It’s knives, vehicles, bombs,” Nault said.
“There is no pattern or method to their selection of victims. Active killer situations are unpredictable and evolve quickly. Typically, the immediate deployment of law enforcement is required to stop the threat and mitigate harm to victims.”
Nault said these attacks are often over within five to 10 minutes, before law enforcement can arrive, and people must be prepared mentally and physically to deal with the situation before help gets to the scene.
Nault displayed statistics showing these attacks can involve a variety of weapons, including firearms, knives and vehicles and can happen at the workplace, at schools, churches, military bases and public outdoor events. While many are perpetrated by only one attacker, in some cases, two or three attackers may be involved.
A similar, commonly recommended attack response plan is known as “Run, Hide, Fight” but “Avoid – Deny – Defend” is recommended by ALERRT as an updated, comprehensive plan.
The first step, Avoid, encourages people to flee an attacker as soon as a threat appears, preferably leaving the premises, or to put distance between themselves and the threat.
“If there’s a path to get out that’s empty, evacuate the premises. Be sure to have an escape route and plan in mind. Evacuate regardless of what others are doing. Leave your belongings behind. Help others escape if possible and prevent others from entering the area where all the violence is occurring at that point in time,” Nault said.
When evacuating, people should be sure to keep their hands visible at all times and to keep their hands empty, as an object like a cell phone in the hand could look like a weapon to responding law enforcement. Evacuees should comply with orders from law enforcement and not get in their way as officers try to enter the premises or engage the attacker.
Calling 911 or attempting to tend to wounded people should only be done after evacuating and getting a safe distance away.
The second point of the plan, Deny, calls for preventing an attacker from entering a space where workers or innocent bystanders are located.
“If evacuation is not possible, find a safe spot to hide,” Nault said.
He recommended shutting, locking and barricading the door to a room. This can be done by placing heavy objects in front of the door or using a belt or cord to tie up the door’s hinge or closing mechanism near the top of the door frame.
While hiding in a room, people should turn off the lights and their cell phones, remaining quiet and out of sight until law enforcement arrives. When law enforcement arrives, those hiding should obey orders from law enforcement immediately before trying to explain their situation or ask for help.
The final part of the protocol, Defend, is a last-resort option when a person finds themselves confronted by an attacker and escaping or hiding is no longer possible. In this case, people should use whatever is around them as an improvised weapon.
This could be a pair of scissors, a fire extinguisher or even roach spray, Nault said.
People should not be worried about fighting fair when defending themselves and should target an attacker’s vulnerable spots, such as their eyes, throat or groin.
Tackling an attacker and taking away their weapon can be possible if people work together to coordinate their efforts.
Nault also advised, when in this situation, to fully commit to self-defense and to use whatever means necessary to subdue the attacker.
“The most effective way to train your staff to respond to an active shooter situation is to conduct mock active shooter training exercises,” Nault said. He has already offered several presentations, like the one he gave to the Lions, to local companies this year and has several more scheduled for the summer.
“This is a free service. We don’t charge it to anybody,” Nault said.
To learn more about these information sessions, contact Officer Todd Nault at the Kilgore Police Department by emailing email@example.com. To view the “Avoid – Deny – Defend” training video from ALERRT at TSU, visit www.YouTube.com and search the phrase “Avoid Deny Defend” to access the 11-minute video.
Nault recommended sharing the video link with anyone wanting to learn more about this topic.