Academic Council

Authorizes Release:

Chief of Staff for the President

Responsible Area:

University Police Department

Review Cycle:

Annually or as required

Last Review:

October 2023

Related Policies and Additional References:


I. Profile of an Active Shooter

An Active Shooter is an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in
a confined and populated area; in most cases, active shooters use firearms(s) and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims. Active shooter situations are unpredictable and evolve quickly. Typically, the immediate deployment of law enforcement is required to stop the shooting and mitigate harm to victims. Because active shooter situations are often over within 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.

II. Purpose

It is the policy of St Mary’s University to provide an active shooter/active assailant emergency response plan as a part of the St. Mary’s University Emergency Action Plan in order to prepare faculty, staff and students on how best to prevent, protect, mitigate, respond to and recover from an active shooter event while on the St. Mary’s University campus.  

III. General Policy Elements

  1. Provide training for the campus community in recognizing behaviors that may lead to a pathway of violence for students, staff and faculty.
  2. Encourage reporting of concerns to the Office of Human Resource, the University Police Department and the Office of Student Development.
  3. Strengthen intervention capabilities to help evaluate potential threats including the formation of a Behavior Intervention Team. (See Behavior Intervention Team Charter)
  4. Test and utilize the campus notification systems that support emergency events.  
  5. Ensure employees are aware of the institution’s active shooter and evacuation policy and procedures.
  6. Offer training to the campus community on Active shooter preparedness and critical first aid.
  7. Ensure our university police department procedures, policies and training align with best practices oriented towards threat response.
  8. Equip our university police to expeditiously eliminate any ongoing, active shooter threat.
  9. Ensure our University Police Department have established lines of communication and coordination with local/federal agencies that would support such an event.
  10. Establish a communication network to help manage the crisis during and after the event.    
  11. Provide a basis of support and services for the campus community to deal with the post incident response to an active shooter event.
  12. Formulate a business recovery plan to restore operation post incident.

IV. Active Event Procedures

  1. The first member of faculty, staff or student to identify an active shooter/active assailant situation should call the University Police emergency number (210) 431-1911 and announce (“Active Shooter/Active Assailant”), (with the location of the incident) and a physical description of the person(s) with the weapon, and type of weapon, if known. The call should be made as soon as possible and in a safe manner, away from the active shooter/assailant
    • The phone call to (210)431-911 (from the area where the caller is safely concealed) should provide the following information to the police:
      • Description of suspect(s) and possible location
      • Number and types of weapons
      • Suspect’s direction of travel
      • Location and condition of any known victims
  2. University Police will dispatch appropriate officers, engage outside law enforment entities and notify the campus leadership of the report.
  3. The emergency operator/supervisor/University Official upon notification will provide a public announcement  ”RAVE ALERT” on the public address system (phone alert, text, etc.)

In response to an active shooter/active assailant event, there will be three potential courses of action 1) evacuate, 2) hide out, 3) taking action against the active shooter. The following guidelines identify these courses of action:

  1. Evacuate
    • If there is an accessible escape path, attempt to evacuate the premises, following these recommendations:
      • Have an escape route and plan in mind
      • Evacuate regardless of whether others agree to follow
      • Leave your belongings behind
      • Help others escape, if possible
      • Prevent individuals from entering an area where the active shooter/active assailant may be
      • Keep your hands visible
      • Follow the instructions of any police officer who may arrive on scene
      • Do not attempt to move wounded people
      • Call 210-431-1911 when you are safe
  2. Hide Out
    • If evacuation is not possible, find a place to hide where the active shooter/active assailant is less likely to find you, with these recommendations:
      • Be inconspicuous
      • Be out of the active shooter/active assailant’s view
      • Provide physical protection if shots are fired in your direction (e.g., locating into a bathroom and locking the door, staying as low to the floor as possible and remaining quiet and motionless)
      • Do not trap yourself or restrict your options for movement
    • To prevent an active shooter/active assailant from entering the hiding place:
      • Lock the door
      • Blockade the door with heavy furniture
    • If the active shooter/active assailant is nearby:
      • Lock the door
      • Silence cell phones and/or pagers
      • Turn off any source of noise (i.e., television, radio)
      • Hide behind large items (i.e., cabinets, desks)
      • Remain quiet and motionless
    • If it is not possible to evacuate or hide, then consider self-defense, with these recommendations:
      • Remain calm
      • Dial 210-431-1911, if possible, to alert police to the active shooter/active assailant’s location
      • If you cannot speak, leave the line open and allow the 1911 dispatcher to listen
  3. Taking Action Against the Active Shooter
    • Take action against the active shooter/active assailant, only when you believe your life is in imminent danger. Attempt to disrupt and/or incapacitate the active shooter/active assailant as follows:
      • Acting aggressively as possible against him/her
      • Throwing items and improvising weapons (e.g., fire extinguisher)
      • Yelling
      • Commit yourself to defensive physical actions

V. Law Enforcement Response

The Police will arrive to respond to the threat. Follow these recommendations:

  1. Comply with the Police instructions. The first responding officers will be focused on stopping the active shooter/active assailant and creating a safe environment for medical assistance to be brought in to aid the injured
  2. When the Police arrive at your location:
    • Remain calm, and follow officers’ instructions
    • Put down any items in your hands (i.e., bags, jackets)
    • Immediately raise your hands and spread your fingers
    • Keep your hands visible at all times
    • Avoid making quick movements toward officers such as attempting to hold on to them for safety
    • Avoid pointing, screaming and/or yelling
    • Do not stop to ask officers for help or direction when evacuating, just proceed in the direction from which officers are entering the area or to an area to which they direct you
    • Notify University representatives that you have evacuated the premises
  3. When the Police arrive, the following information should be available:
    • Number of shooters/assailants
    • The type of problem causing the situation
    • Type and number of weapons possibly in the possession of the shooter/ active assailant
  4. All necessary University representatives still in the area as part of the Emergency Response shall:
    • Identify and describe all participants, if possible
    • Provide keys to all involved areas as well as floor plans
    • Locations and phone numbers in the affected area
    • Shall assist Law Enforcement with providing safe locations for those evacuated from the scene

VI. Post-Incident Action

When Police have determined that the active shooter/active assailant emergency is under control, the emergency operator/Incident Commander will provide a public announcement (RAVE ALERT, phone alert, Text, etc.) that the emergency is over or “CLEAR SCENE”

  1. Scene investigation will be completed once all non-essential personnel, students and staff have been accounted for and removed from the scene
  2. Scene investigation will likely close off all buildings affected for use. The campus will determine how best to and when to resume normal operations and notify the campus of any relevant changes.
  3. Counseling services will be established to help the community process the event. A notification of these resources will be provided to the community.
  4. Additional support and business continuity may be established depending on the severity of the incident including a business recovery plan and communication plan.  

References used in the generation of this plan:

  • U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Active Shooter “How to Respond”, Safety Guidelines for Armed Subjects, Active Shooter Situations, April 2007.
  • Safety Tips & Guidelines Regarding Potential “Active Shooter” Incidents Occurring on Campus, University of California Police.
  • Shots Fired, When Lightning Strikes (DVD), Center for Personal Protection and Safety, 2007.
  • Workplace Violence Desk Reference, Security Management Group International,
  • How to Plan for Workplace Emergencies and Evacuations, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Health and Safety Administration, OSHA 3088, 2001.
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