City employees learn active shooter defense

Published 6:32 pm Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Troy Police Department Lt. Greg Wright talks during an active shooter defense class in Troy, Ala., Wednesday, March 12, 2014. (Photo/Thomas Graning)

Troy Police Department Lt. Greg Wright talks during an active shooter defense class in Troy, Ala., Wednesday, March 12, 2014. (Photo/Thomas Graning)


Surviving an active shooter at the workplace or in a public location may be as simple as having a plan.

In classes held at the Recreation Center this week, Troy Police Lieutenant Greg Wright helped city employees form their plans by providing tips and training.

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The classes started out with Jonathan and Kimberly Sellers’ accounts of a home invasion they survived two years ago.

“Adrenaline kicks in and takes over,” Jonathan said. “Your mind isn’t there.”

Wright recommended designating a safe area to which workers can retreat. He also asked that people pay close attention to the shooter’s appearance and weapon to help law enforcement quickly find the shooter once they arrive.

Wright said the first decision people have to make is whether to run, hide or fight the shooter. Try to flee, even if co-workers are unsure what to do and try to take others, but go whether others follow or not, he said.

If hiding is the only option, he said to turn off lights, block the door and turn off ringers on cell phones. Because most employers do not allow employees to carry firearms, Wright listed other options.

“You’re not allowed to have a weapon on premises. That doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to improvise,” he said. “Books, chairs, staplers … anything you’ve got that you can throw at somebody trying to harm you.”

He recommended keeping bottles of wasp spray or computer cleaners at hand.

Jacob Fannin is in charge of risk management and safety for the city.

“This is the first time that I’m aware of that it’s been opened up to the entire city,” he said.

The classes were optional and open to any city employee. About 200 people took advantage of the opportunity.

Two days and four classes later, the demand for the class amongst Troy employees is still strong. As word of mouth spread about the classes, Fannin started receiving requests for a “make-up day.”

Wright said he may offer another day of the classes and would consider opening the class to local employers or the general public.

“I’ve been thinking about getting permission from the chief to do that,” he said. “Because I know there’s a need for it.”

This was the first Wright offered the class to all city employees, but it was not the first time he taught it.

“I do these on an on-call basis,” he said.

Wright said mass shootings in public places have become so common an occurrence that some insurance companies have started requiring employers train employees on surviving them.