Safety Guidelines for Active Shooter Situations on Campus


While the likelihood of a shooter on campus is remote, it is best to be prepared for any situation. Active shooter situations are unpredictable, evolve quickly, and are often over in 10 to 15 minutes. Before law enforcement arrives on the scene, individuals must be prepared both mentally and physically to deal with an active shooter situation
An active shooter is a person or persons who appear to be actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people, most often in populated areas. In most cases active shooters use firearm(s) and display no pattern or method for selection of their victims. Active shooter situations are dynamic and evolve rapidly, demanding immediate response by the community and immediate deployment of law enforcement resources to stop the shooting and prevent further harm to the community. This document provides guidance to faculty, staff, and students who may be caught in an active shooter situation, and describes what to expect from responding law enforcement officers.

For additional information see the Guidelines noted below and refer to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security "Active Shooter How to Respond" guide (PDF). The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has also produced a video titled, "Run, Hide, Fight".


In general, how you respond to an active shooter will be dictated by the specific circumstances of the encounter. If you find yourself involved in an active shooter situation, try to remain calm and call UPD at 470-6666 or 911 as soon as possible. Follow all instructions upon receipt of a NY-ALERT critical emergency notification.

If an active shooter is outside your building or inside the building you are in, you should:

  • Try to remain calm.
  • Try to warn other faculty, staff, students and visitors to take immediate shelter.
  • Proceed to a room that can be locked or barricaded.
  • Lock and barricade doors or windows.
  • Turn off lights.
  • Close blinds.
  • Turn off radios or other devices that emit sound.
  • Keep yourself out of sight, stay away from windows and take adequate cover/protection, i.e. concrete walls, thick desks, filing cabinets.
  • Silence cell phones.
  • Have one person call UPD at 470-6666 and provide:
    • "We have an active shooter on campus at (give your location), gunshots fired."
    • If you were able to see the offender(s), give a description of the persons(s) sex, race, clothing, type of weapon(s), location last observed, direction of travel, and identity - if known.
    • If you observed any victims, give a description of the location and number of victims.
    • If you observed any suspicious devices (improvised explosive devices), provide the location observed and a description.
    • If you heard any explosions, provide a description and location.
  • Wait patiently until a uniformed police officer, or a university official known to you, provides an "all clear."
  • Unfamiliar voices may be an active shooter trying to lure you from safety; do not respond to voice commands until you can verify with certainty that they are being issued by a police officer or university official.
  • Attempts to rescue people should only be attempted if it can be accomplished without further endangering the persons inside a secured area.
  • Depending on circumstances, consideration may also be given to exiting ground floor windows as safely and quietly as possible.

If an active shooter enters your office of classroom, you should:

  • Try to remain calm.
  • Try not to do anything that will provoke the active shooter.

If there is no possibility of escape or hiding, you should FIGHT, strike out at the shooter by throwing items or even tackling if possible in an attempt to disarm.

  • Call UPD, if possible, and provide the information listed in the first guideline.
  • If the active shooter(s) leaves the area, barricade the room or proceed to a safer location.

If you are in an outside area and encounter an active shooter, you should:

  • Try to remain calm.
  • Move away from the active shooter or the sounds of gunshot(s) and/or explosion(s).
  • Look for appropriate locations for cover/protection, i.e. brick walls, retaining walls, large trees, parked vehicles, or any other object that may stop bullet penetration.
  • Try to warn other faculty, staff, students and visitors to take immediate shelter.
  • Call UPD and provide the information listed in the first guideline.

What to expect from responding police officers

The objectives of responding police officers are:

  • Immediately engage or contain the active shooter(s) in order to stop life threatening behavior.
  • Identify threats such as improvised explosive devices.
  • Identify victims to facilitate medical care, interviews and counseling.
  • Investigation

Police officers responding to an active shooter are trained to proceed immediately to the area in which shots were last heard in order to stop the shooting as quickly as possible. The first responding officers may be in teams; they may be dressed in normal patrol uniforms, or they may be wearing external ballistic vests and Kevlar helmets or other tactical gear. The officers may be armed with rifles, shotguns or handguns. Do exactly as the officers instruct. The first responding officers will be focused on stopping the active shooter and creating a safe environment for medical assistance to be brought in to aid the injured.


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