After a recent spate of mass shootings, many Americans are asking themselves painful, now-familiar questions: Why? How can we fix this? What should I do if I’m at work and I hear a series of gunshots in the courtyard or the hallway?
As the person in charge of the active violence incident response program in the MSU Police Department, it’s Captain Matt Merony’s job to help MSU faculty, staff, and students answer this last question. Merony and his team help train the MSU community to respond to active shooter incidents through scheduled trainings, like those hosted through AAN at the MSU Union on August 27th and September 13th.
Merony and his team also conduct trainings in units across campus by appointment. Those interested are encouraged to speak with their supervisors and coordinate training through the MSU Police website.
As a veteran police officer with 21 years of SWAT experience, Captain Merony is an expert on the evolving strategy and tactics used by the law enforcement community when responding to active violence incidents. After the massacre at Columbine High School in 1999, the FBI began studying mass shootings in earnest, introducing new terminology and urging fresh response protocols for local law enforcement. A large part of this new paradigm involved educating the general public on how to survive these incidents.
“[Mass shooters] were picking schools, churches, malls. Soft targets. Unfortunately, we can’t have a police officer 24/7/365 at every location to respond to something like that, so the first few moments that an event goes on, it’s going to be up to citizens to take care of themselves,” says Merony. “So we wanted to give our community as many tools as we could to help them in the initial moments of [a violence incident]. We also want to tell them and train them about what our response is going to be.”
During Active Shooter and Emergency Response Training, Merony and his team educate workshop attendees about the “Run, Hide, Fight” civilian response model. They also answer people’s questions about everything from police response time to building-specific exit and hiding strategies.
There are challenges inherent in getting faculty and staff to participate in the training–more so than in the case of current students, for whom response training and drilling has been a standard component of school life. But Merony is passionate about helping people overcome those fears for a simple reason. “The training could save your life,” he says. He is interested in giving the MSU community peace of mind through education and “I’m not trying to make people uber-paranoid. If people can walk away with a heightened awareness of what these [incidents] are, that’s all I ask. I can give you the tools.”
Merony also thinks that if people know how vast and comprehensive the local law enforcement response to an incident like this would be, it may be comforting. Immediately after receiving a report of a violence incident, a coordinated response from MSU Police, as well as other departments (including Ingham, Clinton, and Eaton counties, East Lansing, Lansing, and Meridian Township) will occur.
“Everybody’s coming. That’s the great thing. That’s why I say that immediately after one of these events occurs, somebody will be there. It doesn’t matter where,” says Merony. “Not only do [all these departments] train in the same tactics, we train together. We’re also fortunate here at MSU with our staffing levels. We’ve got people to respond to an incident like this quickly.”
Faculty and staff interested in Active Shooter and Emergency Response Training are encouraged to attend sessions hosted by the AAN at the MSU Union, Room UB50, on August 27th and September 13th. Invitations to register were already emailed to all incoming new academics. Additionally, all faculty and staff are invited. If you did not receive an invitation to register and would like to do so, or have any questions, please contact the Academic Advancement Network at AAN@ms.edu).
If you would like to request a separate Active Shooter and Emergency Response Training workshop for your unit, please use the request form on the MSU Police Department’s website. Training resources are also available in PDF form.
If you are a faculty member and would like to attend the next training sponsored by AAN, please email OFASD@msu.edu.