Officer Larry Jacobs
Officer Larry Jacobs

An “active shooter” is defined by the FBI as an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area.  As we have seen, the incidents of active shooters seem to be increasing, or at least the media is covering it more.

Here are some active shooter statistics from the FBI website:

v  The average active shooter incident lasts 12 minutes, while 37 percent last less than five  minutes. (Source: John Nicoletti, lecture entitled “Detection and Disruption of Insider/Outsider Perpetrated Violence”)

v  2 percent of the shooters bring improvised explosive devices (IEDs) as an additional weapon. (Source: Blair & Martaindale, “United States Active Shooter Events from 2001 to 2010”)

v  In 10 percent of the cases, the shooter stops and walks away. In 20 percent of the cases, the shooter goes mobile, moving to another location. (Source: Blair & Martaindale)

v  43 percent of the time, the crime is over before police arrive. In 57 percent of the shootings, an officer arrives while the shooting is still underway. (Source: Blair & Martaindale)

v  Patrol officers are most likely responding alone or with a partner. When responding alone, 75 percent had to take action, and a third of those officers were shot by the intruder. (Source: Blair & Martaindale)

What can you do to protect yourself?

That is a very difficult question and I wish there was a magic answer.  There is not.  I do have a few suggestions though:

— Be aware of your surroundings at all times;

— Always look for an extra way out wherever you are.  For example, while at a business, look for alternative exits;

–Check out this video. It is highly recommended by the Sandy Springs Police Department and many other police agencies around the country.  After watching it, you will now have several options on what you can do during an active shooter situation.

The Sandy Springs police can assist businesses and schools in the city with an active shooter presentation.  An officer or two will come out to your location and conduct a class, discuss what an active shooter is and your options in a situation involving an active shooter. We will go over the video discussed above and will then conduct a site survey and provide suggestions.  All this is done at no charge.  Please contact me to schedule a training session.

Officer Larry Jacobs is the Crime Prevention Officer for the Sandy Springs Police Department.  He can be reached directly at

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.