A training program that started in University City less than a year ago, teaching how to respond in an active-shooter situation, is gaining traction citywide.
Officer Chris Kopp of the Charlotte-Meckleburg Police Department developed the “Surviving an Active Shooter” training. He has made the lecture-based presentation more than 30 times since January, roughly once a week all over Charlotte.
“It’s actually exploded,” Kopp said of interest in the course.
The training is not tactical and does not include a hands-on component or scenarios, Kopp said.
Instead, the focus is on survival techniques and options based on the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s “Run, Hide, Fight” program.
Kopp has presented the training to groups as small as four people up to several hundred attendees. Participants have ranged from elementary schoolteachers to heads of security for stores including IKEA, Old Navy and Walmart, Kopp said.
While offering the free training is just one facet of his full-time job with CMPD, Kopp said, he will continue to work with groups as long as there’s an interest.
Kopp recently transferred from University City to CMPD’s uptown headquarters to work as a crime-prevention specialist. The move was made in part so that he could also offer the training in any of the department’s 13 divisions.
Attendees have included Charlotte executive administrators, who are now working on logistics to see whether the training can be offered to the city’s 6,000-plus employees, Kopp said.
The training covers a history of active shooters and national statistics. It combines the philosophies of federal agencies including the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI with guidance from local police.
Between 2000 and 2013, the FBI identified 160 active-shooter incidents in the U.S., according to a report from the federal agency published earlier this year: “A Study of Active Shooter Incidents in the United States Between 2000 and 2013.”
“Even when law enforcement was present or able to respond within minutes, civilians often had to make life-and-death decisions and, therefore, should be engaged in training and discussions on decisions they may face,” the report says.
The training also now includes more Charlotte-specific information, Kopp said, noting that he’s stayed after some presentations at the company’s request to speak with Human Resources departments about high-stress environments and services available to employees.
Kopp, a Marine Corps veteran, military marksman and police firearms instructor, developed the course himself using contacts from the law-enforcement community.
Last year, Kopp had hoped to attend the national certification course – “Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events” – offered by the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center at Texas State University.
The University City division of CMPD’s budget didn’t allow for the trip at the time, but Kopp said he likely will be able to attend the 2015 session in January.
The training also will help teach him to train others to lead active-shooter presentations.
“Right now it’s just me,” he said, but it may be possible to create a video version if interest continues to grow.
Kopp said the training is available to community groups and that it’s important that everyone know how to respond in an active-shooter situation.
“It needs to be talked about, and people need to know what to do,” he said. “You don’t want to freeze and become a victim.”