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May 2017 - Vol. 3, No. 5

Stop The Killing:

Are your tactics

obscuring your objectives?

Dr. J. Pete Blair, Executive Director
ALERRT at Texas State University

     In our classes, we teach students that the two primary objectives are to Stop the Killing, and
then, Stop the Dying. We spend the majority of the instructional time teaching several tactics
that are designed to help officers achieve both objectives. Unfortunately, we often find that
students become so focused on the tactics that they forget that it is the objective and not the
tactic that matters. This series of articles is designed to help resolve some of this confusion by
providing some general guidelines for response, as well as highlighting key decision points. The
first article will focus on the Stop the Killing phase of the attack.
     As a law enforcement officer, when you first arrive on scene, your priority is to stop the attacker
from creating any more casualties. You must Stop the Killing. Your first task is to determine if
this is a legitimate active shooter call. The best indicator of this is active gunfire.

Active Gunfire
     If you hear gunfire, move directly toward the sound of the gunfire in an attempt to quickly
isolate, distract, or neutralize the attacker. Do not wait for more officers. Specific movement
formations or lists of “what ifs” should not slow your accomplishing the most important
objective: Stop the Killing. In real-time, your movement speed should be faster than the
deliberate “no faster than you can shoot or think” that we teach in classes. It won’t be a sprint,
but it will probably be a fast jog. You probably will not be able to maintain a good diamond or
“T” formation. You won’t be doing much scanning of the rooms that you pass. You will
probably try to do a threshold evaluation of the room that the sound of gunfire is coming from.
Take a second and let this sink in. We are telling you that you will not be using many of the
tactics that we taught you in class. The tactics are too slow, and every second that you delay,
people are being murdered. You must get to the attacker and stop him from hurting anyone else.

Isn’t this dangerous?!”
     Yes, it is. This is probably one of the most dangerous situations that you will encounter in your
career. In almost a quarter of the cases where officers arrive when the attack is still ongoing, an
officer is shot. Fortunately, most of these officers survive. Our advice is based upon our research
into hundreds of these events.
These are the relevant facts:
   1. The typical police response time is about 3 minutes.
   2. The active killing part of most attacks is over in less than 5 minutes. This means that
typically there is about a 2 minute window where police action can make a difference.
   3. 98% of the time you will be facing a single shooter. In the few cases where there was
more than one shooter, the shooters stayed together working as a team.
   4. The fact that you hear active gunfire means that the attacker is focused on killing victims,
not on ambushing the police.
   5. More than half of attackers are armed only with a pistol or pistols. Your basic body
armor will stop this. About a quarter of the attackers have rifles – a level III plate will
generally stop these rounds.
   6. Every officer within range of your department’s radio transmission is heading your way
and will be there as fast as they can. Even if you are alone when you first enter the
building, you will not be alone for long.
   7. Every second you delay creates the opportunity for the attacker to create more victims.
   8. You have training, a weapon, and body armor. You will have backup. The people being
murdered do not. They are depending on you to save them.

No Active Gunfire
   Now, let’s say that you arrive and there is no active gunfire. No one is running away from the
building, and you don’t see any injured people. It may be that you arrived after the attack has
stopped (this occurs a little more than half the time), or it may be that the gunfire is happening
somewhere inside where you cannot hear it.
   In this case, you will probably move toward the nearest building entry, crack the door open and
listen. If you still don’t hear anything, you might radio dispatch, asking if they have any new
information. At this point, you might wait for other officers to show up, get in a formation, and
begin a more deliberate search of the structure clearing each room as you go. As another option,
you might get into formation and begin a quick sweep of the nearby hallways in an attempt to
learn what caused the initial call. There are several possible actions you might take depending
on the situation.
     Either way, you will be using tactics that more closely resemble what we taught you in class.
You will most likely use a formal formation. Your speed will probably be no faster than you can
think or shoot. If you bypass rooms, the side officers in your formation will attempt to scan the
room as completely as possible on the way by.
     This will be much slower than the approach you use when there is active gunfire. This is
because your driving force is different. There is no gunfire. It was a dispatch call that sent you
here. The call could be bogus. The attack could be over, or the attacker could be attempting to
ambush arriving officers. More caution is warranted.
     If gunfire breaks out during this deliberate search, you will quickly move directly toward the
gunfire in order to stop the killing. Your formation may fall apart. You will be going faster than
you can comfortably shoot and think until you get to where the attacker is located.
     It is critical that what if-ing and analysis paralysis not prevent you from getting into the attack
location to Stop the Killing as quickly as possible. Tactics are designed to help facilitate this
process. They should not replace the real objective - Stop the Killing as quickly as possible.
We are not asking you to be foolish or take unnecessary risks, but if the tactic slows you too
much, it is not valid for the situation.
     In the next article, we will address saving the injured: Stop the Dying.
2017 ALERRT Integrated Response to Active Attacks Conference 
Law Enforcement • Fire • EMS

Embassy Suites Conference Center, San Marcos, Texas
Online conference registration will begin on July 1, 2017.
Mark your calendars and watch your email for details.
Note: The 2016 conference was our largest ever, and was a sell out for vendors and participants, so make plans to register early.
Record-breaking month 
at ALERRT headquarters
Director of Logistics Randall Watkins and his crew have broken records in the last month in shipping equipment for classes and managing the indirect courses across the nation.
In one month, the ALERRT logistics team has supported more than 100 classes across the nation.  They have shipped out 43 kits for direct delivery, and coordinated 58 indirect deliveries.
Our scheduling coordinator, Emily Smith and Meghan Chaney, scheduling admin, have been busy scheduling classes for this summer and into next spring. Contact them through this form if you are interested in hosting a class at your agency.
In other news, it is springtime in Central Texas. The logisics team has isolated, distracted and neutralized three feral hogs and four western diamond back rattlesnakes at our training facility. Watch your step!
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Check Out Our ALERRT Websites

Have you visited our ALERRT websites?  Our main site,,  provides a full description of our training, our history and recent media hits, as well as information about how to register for a class or how to request a class in your community. is our Civilian Response to Active Shooter website - which provides additional information and a resource for your community. is our research-based home, The goal of this website is to provide up-to-date information and data regarding active shooter events in the United States. is an ALERRT campaign encouraging media, law enforcement and public information officers to move their focus from the shooters to the victims and heroes, to limit the sensationalism and glorification of the murderer and redirect the focus to the recovery and healing process within the community. 
Another excellent resource, from our VALOR partners is which provides all levels of law enforcement with tools to help prevent violence against law enforcement officers and enhance officer safety, wellness, and resiliency.
Headline-making news
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      Tell us how your ALERRT training was put to use in the field, especially if it prevented a headline-making event. Level I, Level II, ERASE, CRASE -  any of our courses: We would like to tell your story. Please send your info to

Pete Blair, Ph.D.
Executive Director  

Diana Hendricks
Director of Communications 
John Curnutt
Director of Training  

Kelly Nichols
Director of Finance

Dwayne Sander
Director of Information Technology

Hunter Martaindale, Ph.D.
Director of Research

Randall Watkins
Director of Logistics
Major Funding Partners

Texas Office of the Governor,
Criminal Justice Division

FBI, Department of Justice

National Training
and Education 
Division, Department of
Homeland Security

Local Working Partners

City of San Marcos
Hays County Sheriff’s Office
Texas School Safety Center
Texas Tactical Police 
Officers Association
Gary Job Corps Center, 
San Marcos - Department
of Labor

Professional Partners

C3 Pathways 
KDL Solutions
Committee for Tactical Emergency
Casualty Care (C-TECC)
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