Outdoor active shooting situations that involve crowds — like the one Thursday night in Dallas where several police officers were killed or wounded — present an array of challenges, according to local safety officials.
“There are so many things going on at one time. You’ve got to protect the citizens as well as yourself from what’s happening,” said West Carrollton police Chief Doug Woodard. “You have to identify the threat or threats, try to isolate them and neutralize them as best you can.”
Woodard said that can present logistical problems.
“You have people running, people fleeing the area on foot, people fleeing the area in vehicles,” Woodard said. “You’re trying to get other resources into the scene to help stabilize the scene and get medical attention to people who might be injured.”
Woodard said while simultaneously looking for the perpetrator or perpetrators that are causing the injury.
Complicating issues in the Dallas ambush was gunfire coming from elevated locations in an urban environment consisting largely of steel and concrete, said Bob Chabali, a retired SWAT commander for the Dayton Police Department and a board member for the National Tactical Officers Association.
“So it takes a while to (determine) exactly what is happening,” he said. “The citizens ran away from the gunfire. Dallas police … ran toward the sound of gunfire in an attempt to safe as many lives as possible.”
Training law enforcement officers on how to handle large public events — whether it be a protest or a community festival — has some similarities, said David Hale, a retired major in the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office and now the Yellow Springs police Chief.
“Even planning the county fair … it’s always been peaceful, there’s never been much of a problem. But what happens if there’s a gas leak? What happens if there is somebody who becomes an active shooter?” he said.
“So you plan for those things even when there is — what is supposed to be a peaceful street event,” Hale said. ” … Planning for a demonstration, there may be more of a likelihood of things happening.”
This news outlet is seeking reactions from law enforcement agencies across the Miami Valley today. This story will be updated.