Fulshear Police Department Chief Kenny Seymour said because it typically takes law enforcement three to 3 1/2 minutes to respond to an active shooter situation, citizens need to know how to fend for themselves until help arrives.
The department hosted a “Surviving an Active Shooter” class, or Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events.
The program comes on the heels of America’s most tragic mass shooting incident in Las Vegas.
The program was sponsored by the Texas State University’s Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training, which teaches police officers how to prepare for situations they may encounter. Free and open to the public, the class was taught by three instructors, and attendees saw a PowerPoint presentation, which includes a lot of video, Seymour said. They will look at what has gone right and wrong in certain situations.
Seymour said the class’ main objective was to get people thinking about how they would react if they were ever involved with an active shooter event.
“Our society today, we’re so in depth with knowing what to think instead of knowing how to think — that’s essentially what it is,” Seymour said. “I say all the time that that’s what our society provides, and when it doesn’t, then we sit down and become victims. What we want to do is teach people how to think.”
Seymour said most people think of school shootings first, but violence in the workplace is actually more common and is something to which more people are susceptible. Active shooter situations can occur in social settings as well.
“We all have read about the theaters and [see] what happened in France, and things that happen,” Seymour said. “We go back to the Luby’s shooting in the early 90s. These are all things that have happened, and they’re things that everyday people attend.”
Being aware of surroundings is one of the points Seymour said the class would address. He said citizens today tend to direct about 50 to 60 percent of their attention to their cellphones and then not see what is happening around them.
“Life goes on around us, and we don’t realize it,” Seymour said. “We want them to be more attentive and more vigilant about their surroundings when they’re out there in the public.”
He said that while other factors contribute, he believes mental health issues are probably the leading cause of active shooter situations.
“I think the mental capacity of people nowadays has a whole lot to do with it, whether you’re a disgruntled employee because you got fired or you’re being bullied or whatever the case may be,” Seymour said. “You’re not taking the right medication, or you’re taking too much of it — that is one of the issues we’re having to deal with as law enforcement as a whole.”
The event will be the fifth time that the Fulshear Police Department has taught the class. Seymour said he estimates the classes have each averaged approximately 70 people in attendance.
He said as head of a police department, he thinks daily about the prospect of an active shooter event happening in his community.
‘This happens in small towns. It happens in big towns. It happens everywhere.” Seymour said. “So I’d be dismissed, and my people would be dismissed to think that it wouldn’t. We would be fooling ourselves, so we have to always maintain the possibility.”
His officers train regularly for active shooter situations, and he said that preparation is key.
“Bad things can happen—we just have to be prepared for them,” he said.