The right knowledge can play a vital role in saving lives during critical incidents involving an active shooter, says Waxahachie Police Chief Wade Goolsby.

Waxahachie Police hope to provide churches, schools and business owners with training that would help them think critically in these situations.

“I think that part of the program is getting people to do that kind of thinking even at your workplace. As police officers, we are contently going through mental scenarios of things that may happen wherever we are at. The general population does not do that,” Goolsby said. “We want people to look at their surroundings and think ‘what if?’ and evaluate how would they get out of here, what are the places that they could go, and how would they protect themselves. That is a thought process that most people don’t do. So this is what the program is set about is to give them a thought process and to think about it to be mentally prepared.”

According to the National Criminal Justice Reference Service’s website, the largest proportion of active shooter incidents, roughly 44 percent, occur in areas of commerce, which includes businesses both open and closed to the public. Twenty-three percent of active shooter incidents occur at schools, such as colleges and universities; and 11 percent of active shooter incidents occur in open spaces — public streets, parking lots and parks.

The FBI’s website states that from 2000-2016 there were 220 active shooter incidents in the country. The most recent incident in Texas took place at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs. The Associated Press reported 26 people were killed in the attack and 20 were injured.

Community Relations Officer O.T. Glidewell said the officers will be teaching the run, hide, and fight method in how to respond to an active shooter. Using this method if an active shooter incident happens where you are at Homeland Security advises people to,

• Be aware of your environment and any possible dangers.

• Take note of the two nearest exits in any facility you visit.

• If you are in an office, stay there and secure the door.

• If you are in a hallway, get into a room and secure the door.

• As a last resort, attempt to take the active shooter down. When the shooter is at close range, and you cannot flee, your chance of survival is much greater if you try to incapacitate him or her.

• Call 9-1-1 when it is safe to do so.

Another part of the training teaches people how to report an incident to 9-1-1 dispatchers and what information to provide them. It also provides insight on police response to that type of call.

“If you call 9-1-1 what are the proper things that you should tell them how many shooters, what they are wearing, the exact location, and the address. They (the officers) might not go to that (specific) church,” Glidewell explained. “We then go into when the police arrive and what to expect from us. There may be a SWAT team, but we may not have time for a SWAT team. We might have a three-man team of officers wearing what we are wearing (patrol uniforms). Who knows you might have a detective who is wearing plain clothes and a badge. So we just try to tell them you might see a variety of different type of police officers enter the building.”

Goolsby added that during this type of call if the shooter has not been apprehended that is the officer’s first priority. Once the threat has been stopped assistance to the wounded take over as the most important concern. He advised that during this type of situation that it is important for people to remain calm. If they encounter an officer at the scene follow their instructions.

Businesses, churches, or schools that are interested in receiving this type of training can contact Glidewell at the police department at 469-309-4436. They can reach him by email at oglidewell@waxahachiepd.org. There is no cost to receive the training.