Active Threat Guidelines

Encountering an active threat at Simmons remains very remote, but we encourage members of the campus community to review these guidelines in the event a threat presents itself. An active threat refers to any incident which creates an immediate threat or presents an imminent danger to the campus community, such as a shooter or a hostage situation.

Active Threat Guidelines

If you can evacuate the building:

  • Try to stay calm and determine the location of the threat.
  • Call 911 or 617-521-1111 as soon as possible, although escaping is your priority.
  • If a safe exit does exist, take it as quickly as possible.
  • Continue running until you are well cleared from the location of the threat. Find a safe location and call 911 or 617-521-1111 to inform police of your location.

If the only exit is through a window, consider the consequences of the fall:

  • How high are you from the ground?
  • Can you land in shrubs or grass to decrease the potential for serious injury?
  • Can you make an improvised rope out of clothing, belts or other items?

If you cannot evacuate the building…

  • Try to stay calm and determine the location of the threat.
  • Take shelter in the nearest office, classroom, closet or other area which can be secured. Barricade the door using any heavy object you can find. If the door opens outward, attach one end of a belt to the door handle and the other end to a heavy object.
  • If the door has a window, cover it.
  • Look for other possible escape routes, such as windows or other doors.
  • Call 911 or 617-521-1111 and tell them what is happening. Speak quietly and then set your cell phone to vibrate or silent.
  • Stay low to the ground and remain as quiet as possible.
  • Once in a secure location, do not open the door for anyone. Do not approach police officers as they attempt to located and neutralize the threat. The police officers will return to assist you once the threat has been neutralized.
  • When the Simmons Police arrive, obey all commands.

If an active threat is in your presence:

  • If you are in a crowded room and the threat is shooting, "play dead" or quietly crawl to safety.
  • If you are with a group, as a last resort, you may choose to take action to gain control of the situation.
  • If the shooter is entering the room, position yourself in a location that allows for an element of surprise.
  • Throw anything available at the threat. Aim for the face to distract him/her.
  • Attack as a group, swarming around the threat.
  • Grab the threat's arms, legs or head and take him/her to the ground. Use body weight to secure him/her.
  • "Fight dirty" — kick, bite, gouge eyes, etc… Do whatever you can to get away.
  • Have someone in the group call 911 or 617-521-1111.
  • When the Simmons Police arrive, obey all commands.

If you have incapacitated the threat...

  • Make sure that the suspect is secured (body weight, belts, etc.)
  • Remove any weapons from the threat.
  • Do not hold a weapon.
  • Call 911 or 617-521-1111 and advise the police that the threat is down.
  • Provide your location and stay on the line if possible.
  • When the Simmons Police arrive, obey all their commands.
Active Shooter

If you see any armed individual on campus at any time or if an individual is acting in a hostile or belligerent manner, immediately contact Simmons College Police Department at 617-521-1111 or 911.

What is an Active Shooter?

An active shooter is defined as "an armed person(s) who has used deadly physical force on other persons and continues to do so while having unrestricted access to additional victims." In most cases, active shooters use a firearm(s), and they often display no sign of a pattern or a method for selecting their victims. In some cases, active shooters use other weapons and/or improvised explosive devices (IED) to cause additional victimization and act as an impediment to law enforcement and emergency services responders. These IED's could detonate immediately, have delayed detonation fuses, or detonate on contact.

An active shooter situation differs from a hostage or barricaded-subject situation. Active shooter situations are dynamic and evolve rapidly; they are demanding an immediate response from the community. They also demand an immediate deployment of law enforcement resources to stop the shooting and prevent further harm to the community.

A hostage or barricade-subject situation often takes place over a longer period of time and usually there is not ongoing injury or loss of life. The situations are often managed through the deployment of specialized units, as time allows. The hostage or barricaded-subject situation could turn into an Active Shooter situation and vice versa.

What to do if you find yourself involved in an Active Shooter situation?

If an active shooter is outside your building and enters the building you are in, you should:

  • Remain calm
  • Warn other faculty, staff, students and visitors to take immediate shelter
  • Go to a room that can be locked or barricaded
  • Lock or barricade doors or windows
  • Turn off lights
  • Close blinds
  • Block windows
  • Turn off radios or other devices that emit sound
  • Keep yourself out of sight and take adequate cover/protection
  • Silence cell phones
  • Have one person call 911 or 617-521-1111 and state: "( your exact location). We have an active shooter on campus, gunshots fired."
What additional information will law enforcement be looking for?
  • Description of the offender(s): sex, race, height, weight, clothing, type of weapon(s), etc.
  • Location last seen, direction of travel and identity if known
  • Description of any victims: provide location(s) and number of victims
  • If you observed any suspicious devices (IED), provide the location of the device and a description
  • If you heard explosions, provide a description and location
What else should I look for?
  • Wait patiently until a uniformed law enforcement officer provides an "all clear."
  • Do not respond to voice commands until you can verify with certainty that they are being issued by a law enforcement officer; unfamiliar voices may be an active shooter trying to lure you from safety.
  • Attempts to rescue people should only be attempted if they can be accomplished without further endangering the persons inside a secured area. Depending on circumstances, consideration may also be given to exiting ground floor windows as safely and quietly as possible.
What if the Active Shooter comes to the area I am?
  • Try to remain calm.
  • Try not to do anything that will provoke the active shooter.
  • If there is no possibility of escaping or hiding, only as a last resort when your life is in imminent danger, should you make a personal choice to attempt to negotiate with or overpower the assailant.
  • Call 911 or 617-521-1111, if possible, and provide information listed above.
  • If the active shooter(s) leaves the area, barricade the room or go to a safer location.

If you are in an outside area and encounter an active shooter, you should:

  • Try to remain calm.
  • Move away from the active shooter or the sound of gunshot(s) and/or explosion(s).
  • Look for appropriate locations for cover/protection (i.e., brick walls, retaining walls, parked vehicles, etc.)
  • Call 911 or 617-521-1111 and provide the information listed above.

What you should expect from responding officers:

  • Immediately engage or contain the active shooter(s) in order to stop life-threatening behavior.
  • Identify threats such as improvised explosive devices (IED).
  • Identify victims to facilitate medical care, interviews and counseling.
  • Investigate.
  • Law enforcement officers responding to an active shooter are trained to proceed immediately to the area in which shots were last heard in order to stop the shooting as quickly as possible.
  • The first responding officers may be in teams; they may be dressed in normal patrol uniforms, or they may be wearing external ballistic vests and Kevlar helmets or other tactical gear.

Important Definitions:

  • Shelter-in-place: a directive to seek immediate shelter indoors following the announcement of an emergency condition.
  • Secure-in-place/Lockdown: A Lockdown is an emergency situation that requires people to stay safely inside a room or building due to a dangerous situation. When it is necessary to secure-in-place, you will be the safest by placing a locked door or other barricade between you and the associated violence or danger.

For more information on what to do in an active shooter situation, please click on the link below from the Department of Homeland Security.

Bomb Threat/Suspicious Package

If you see a suspicious package /object or are alerted to a bomb threat you should:

  • Do not touch or disturb the object.
  • Call Simmons College Police 617-521-1111. Provide as much information as possible about the threat or object.
  • Be prepared to evacuate.
  • If you are told to evacuate, look around for anything suspicious and report it to the authorities.
Lockdown/Secure-in-Place

A Lockdown is an emergency situation that requires people to stay safely locked inside a room or building due to a dangerous situation. Examples of threats that may trigger a Lockdown include: an active shooter in the immediate area and a violent suspect observed across the street. A Lockdown keeps community members inside locked rooms/buildings while Public Safety personnel and police officials investigate the potential threat.

If a Lockdown order is issued by Simmons Public Safety, these are best practices:

  • Stay Inside! Do not leave the building unless an imminently dangerous situation arises inside. If outside, seek shelter in the nearest building.
  • Take shelter in a locked room if possible. If a locked room is not available, secure the room as best possible.
  • Close windows, shades and blinds, lock doors, and avoid being seen from outside the room.
  • Monitor Simmons Alert and email for updates and further instructions. A description of the threat/circumstances will be disseminated as soon as possible via Simmons Alert and email.
  • Report any emergency or unusual condition to Public Safety. Use discretion in admitting anyone into a secure space. (A known member of the community vs. a stranger).
  • Require that all backpacks and other bags be left outside.
  • Require that persons seeking shelter open all outer garments for visual inspection before allowing entry.

Once in a secure locked location, do not leave until receiving the "all clear" from a police officer, public safety officer, Simmons Alert, email or website communication.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q. If there is a Lockdown alert and I am outside of a building, what do I do?

There is no simple answer. Depending on the content of the alert (did it say exactly where the threat was?) you may wish to quickly enter a building and find a room to secure yourself, or you may choose to exit the campus altogether and seek shelter at other buildings near by such as Emmanuel, the museum, or Mass Art.

Q. What do I do if the room I am in does not have a lock on the door?

You have several choices depending upon the circumstances. You may choose to stay in that room and block the door with heavy objects, or wedge it shut if there is a doorstop. You may, if you think time allows, exit the room and find another that can lock. Again, what you do will depend on the specific information provided about the Lockdown and the location of the threat.

Q. What is the difference between a Lockdown and a Shelter-in-Place?

Lockdown: A Lockdown involves occupants of a building being directed to remain confined to a room or area within a building with specific procedures to follow, such as locking doors, closing or opening windows and shades and, seeking cover. A Lockdown may be the appropriate response when a dangerous person(s) is believed to be on or near the premises and school administrators are taking these measures to minimize risk that the occupants will be exposed to danger. Lockdowns necessitate a law enforcement response and immediate intervention. Sheltering-in-Place is different from a Lockdown in that while you are instructed to remain inside buildings and away from doors and windows, you are not required to prepare for an immediate intrusion or violence. Examples of when you would be required to Shelter-in-Place would be a tornado warning or the release of an airborne contaminant in the area. Such events would not require locking offices or classrooms, or barricading doors to prevent entry.

Q. How will people know where I am during an emergency? Can I call home?

During these emergencies, family and friends often overwhelm the emergency dispatch centers with calls, making a bad situation more difficult. In a Lockdown, you want to remain as quiet as possible. Most of these situations are over within minutes and you will be able to contact your loved ones promptly. As soon as the emergency is cleared, it would be helpful if you sent a text to your loved ones to let them know you are okay.

Public Safety personnel and College administrators will communicate with the community as often as possible during and after the emergency via the Rave Alert (Simmons Alert) system and the College’s email system and website. This will be the most accurate source of information. Do not believe what you see on social media unless it comes from Public Safety or the College’s official source(s).

Q. What will the police do?

If the Lockdown is for a violent suspect or active shooter, the police will seek to stop the suspect as soon as possible. Once that takes place, the police will begin clearing the affected area/building room by room out of an abundance of caution, to ensure there are no other suspects involved. When the police clear your room, put your hands in the air and follow their instructions. Do not approach the police for assistance.

Suspicious Behaviors

Suspicious is defined as anything that seems slightly "out of place" for the area or time of day in which it occurs. The most obvious things to watch out for and report are:

  • Strangers trying to enter your neighbor's room when it is unoccupied.
  • Anyone trying doors to see if they are locked.
  • Any person that looks like they don't belong entering or leaving an academic office area after hours.
  • Audible screams, anywhere and anytime (they may mean an assault, a rape, or a robbery is in progress).
  • The sound of breaking glass or other loud, explosive noises.
  • An accident, burglary or vandalism may have occurred.
  • Anyone that is walking around bicycle racks carrying bolt cutters, pipes, or other tools.
  • Anyone running (especially one carrying something of value-could be leaving a scene of a crime).

Although most of these situations could have innocent explanations, SCPD would rather investigate crime-prone situations than be called when it's too late.