Rapid mass murderers & 4-officer response teams
FSN #218, Ron Borsch, lead trainer and manager of the South East Area Law Enforcement Academy in Bedford, OH, reported recent statistics on active killers and commented that in contrast to responding officers acting solo, a team formation of four or more officers has never successfully confronted and stopped a "rapid mass murderer." A Florida trainer comments:]
Statistics don't show that multiple officers have been able to stop rapid mass murder because most of these situations happen so fast that by the time officers arrive the shooting is over, regardless of whether one officer or multiple officers respond.
Another consideration is where these shootings are occurring and how departments in those areas are capable of handling immediate responses. In rural areas where officers are limited and backup is miles away, an immediate response to formulate multiple-officer tactics would create a loss of time and life. But in urban areas that have many officers in smaller areas, personnel could respond immediately to deal with the threat. Tactics have to be tailored for each agency, depending on the resources.
If multiple officers arrive and deploy simultaneously, the perpetrator has to deal with multiple guns and targets firing at him rather than just one. But if the luxury of simultaneous arrival and deployment is not possible, the solo officer tactic would definitely be correct and that is what we preach to our officers.
Ofcr. Mark Krumenacker
Certified Force Science Analyst
Sunrise (FL) PD
Ron Borsch responds:
You are certainly correct that many times these situations are over by the time anyone from law enforcement arrives. The known post-Columbine shooting times average +/- six minutes. Unfortunately, the known time delays in actually notifying police have also averaged +/- six minutes. Added to the six-minute notification time are the police response time, the time for locating the suspect (typically in a huge facility), and the time for stopping the killer. On paper, it would seem that we could never be successful. At Northern Illinois University, for example, officers arrived in just 29 seconds--and they still were too late.
Fortunately, against the odds, we have over a dozen examples where LE as been successful in interrupting and stopping an active killer. 70% of these successes have been by solo officers, compared to 15% by two-officer deployments and ditto for three-officer initiation. There have been zero
successes for anything initiated by four officers or more officers.
Assume a single officer arrives while the shooter is still active. The moment he delays to hook up with a second officer, the potential for stopping the killing drops significantly. To expect as many as four officers to arrive simultaneously
is a flawed premise.
Should multiple officers miraculously appear at once, they should be deployed in different directions (hallways left, right, straight; up or down stairs). With so much ground to cover, multiple officers sticking together as a countermeasure squanders both golden minutes of time and manpower resources.
None of this is opinion. It is simple tactical mathematics. When law enforcement insists on being part of the "herd" or "posse" response, they place their own safety above the innocents they are sworn to protect.
Multiple-officer formations are great for secondary follow up; i.e., search-and-rescue. Our take is to include two paramedics, with the four officers there as bodyguards during the secondary goal of stopping the bleeding.
There have been successful single-officer interventions that pre-date Columbine. One such success in 1994 involved Andy Brown, then a 24-year-old Air Force police officer on bike patrol at Washington's Fairchild AFB when a rifleman started killing people inside the base hospital.
When Andy arrived as the first officer on the scene, the killer was chasing people out of the building and began shooting his rifle at Andy. Dumping his bike, taking a knee, and firing four rounds from his duty 9mm Beretta, Andy delivered two hits, his last shot in the suspect's head, ending the murder spree. It was amazing enough to score 50% while under direct fire, but even more amazing was that Andy was successful with his pistol at a distance of 210 feet! I think you will agree that there may have been divine intervention at play here, having the right man with the right skills and the right mindset in the right place at the right time.