Active Threat Guidelines

Plan, Evaluate and Respond

Simmons Police & Public Safety encourages you to plan so you are prepared to respond in the event that someone came on campus (or anywhere for that matter) and tried to hurt people. 

What would you do? How would you react? Do you know where the closest exit is in a building? 

These are questions you should ask yourself now, and think about now so if such a terrible thing were to occur, you can react without having to stop and think.  

The purpose of the below video is to help prepare you for the unlikely but dangerous scenario of an active shooter or an active threat being on our campus.This video was developed by The Boston Consortium for Higher Education and Yale University. We thank them for allowing us to utilize this tool to help enhance the Simmons University emergency preparedness program.

The below video will emphasize that you need to:

  1. Plan in Advance: Know where exits are. Recognize if the room locks and if not, is there a lockable room close by, etc.
  2. Evaluate Options: Get away from the threat. Call the police. If you can't run, then hide. Can you help others escape? 
  3. Respond: Move! Don't be frozen, you must react!

Whether you are in Boston on the Simmons campus, in your hometown, or out anywhere in public, you should always have these three components in your mind. Being prepared before an emergency situation takes place is your best protection.

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.

Additional Guidelines

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 University 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.
  • 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.

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 University 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.

What is a lockdown?

A lockdown is a precautionary measure that will take place in response to a threat made directly to the campus or in the surrounding community. Depending on the type of lockdown, exterior and interior doors on campus will be locked.

What does a lockdown look like?

Notification is made through a variety of methods including text, email, telephone, outdoor PA, desktop alert, common area video screens, or any combination of these.

There are two types of lockdowns:

  • Full Lockdown: If there is an active threat to the campus, the notification will include a brief message and may be followed by updated information as it becomes available. Exterior building doors may be locked. Faculty may pull students and visitors into their classrooms and lock the doors. Staff may lead people out of common areas to exits or safer locations. You may need to sit on the classroom floor, away from the door and windows. Everyone is encouraged to remain calm and quiet. Turn off the lights, move away from the door, and silence all electronic devices.
  • Modified Lockdown: This may be used when a threat is external to the campus but in the Fenway area. For example, if there was a report of a fugitive in the neighborhood. Police / Public Safety may restrict entry and exits to campus buildings, however normal instructional activities may continue.

What should I do when I receive the Lockdown Alert?

Quickly evaluate your options, get away from the threat, and help others to escape. If you cannot run, then hide. Lock the door if possible, barricade if needed, and look to help others get safely in the room before locking. Shut off lights, silence electronic equipment, move away from doors and windows, and monitor the Simmons Alert system. If the room does not lock, move to a lockable room if it is safe to do so or barricade doors with furniture.

What should I do if I am outside when a lockdown alert goes out?

If you are outside and are able to leave the area, do so. Move as far away from the threat as possible. Do not hesitate.

If I am outside, a full lockdown occurs and all exterior building doors lock, what should I do?

If you are outside, and are able to leave the area, do so. Move as far away from the threat as possible. Do not hesitate.

If you feel entering a building is safer than leaving the area and you have your ID/Access card handy, you should be able to use it to tap into the door. If a door is locked and you cannot get in, you should keep moving and get away from the area as quickly as possible.

What should I do if I am in class when an alert goes out?

You should lock the door if possible, barricade the door if needed. Turn off the lights, move away from the door, and silence all electronic devices. If conditions change, more information should be forthcoming, but listen for PA announcements, outside noises, etc.

What should I do if I am in an indoor public area?

If you are in a hallway, lobby, or waiting area, take shelter in the nearest office or get to the nearest exit. Again, you want to move away from the threat. Move as far away from the area as you can, and into a lockable room if safe to do so.

What do I do if I encounter the threat?

If you do not have time to run or hide, and you encounter the threat - DO SOMETHING! Throw something, yell, kick, punch. FIGHT!Distracting the threat may give you enough time to run and create distance. Never give up.

What if I am heading to campus and receive the lockdown alert?

Do not come to campus. Local law enforcement may have roads blocked during a serious threat, but if not, you need to avoid the area. Monitor the University website and watch for Simmons Alerts via text and email for updates.

When will a lockdown end?

Everyone should remain in the lockdown mode until a formal announcement is made that ends the lockdown.

Why are students, faculty, and staff directed to silence their cell phones during a lockdown?

There are many ways that cell phone usage can compromise your safety. Specifically, a phone in use may give away the location of people in hiding to an intruder.

Does Simmons coordinate with local law enforcement?

Yes. We have ongoing partnerships with local law enforcement including the Boston Police Department. During a lockdown, Simmons Police & Public Safety will work collaboratively to respond to any threat and to keep students, faculty, and staff safe.

How will parents, family, and friends know what is happening?

Simmons will notify parents as soon as practical about a lockdown through phone messages, emails, as well as the Simmons website and social media pages. This is why it is vitally important to keep your contact information up-to-date, especially via Simmons Alert (RAVE), the University's emergency notification system. To check and see if your information is up-to-date and accurate information, log into Workday.

Please be aware that emergencies are fluid and always changing, and that information you are getting from other sources such as the news media and personal Facebook pages may NOT be accurate.

How can I prepare for an emergency?

You can prepare yourself by paying attention to your surroundings; know where the exits are in any location and watch for warning signs of trouble. You should look to see if the door(s) in the room or office you are in can lock. If not, be aware if there is a lockable room nearby. Get yourself into a mindset of having a "what if" plan.

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 Police/Public Safety, these are best practices:

  • If near an exit evacuate the building away from the threat. Remember to move as far away from campus as possible.
  • Take shelter in a locked room if possible. If a locked room is not available, secure the room as best possible, or move to a lockable room if it is safe to do so.
  • 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)

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.

Plan, Evaluate and Respond

The purpose of this video is to help prepare you for the unlikely scenario of an active shooter or an active threat being on our campus.