Penn State

Why Penn State is changing its protocol for an active-attacker situation

Penn State students get patted down as they enter Beaver Stadium for the Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015, game against Michigan. Penn State had heightened security for the day.
Penn State students get patted down as they enter Beaver Stadium for the Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015, game against Michigan. Penn State had heightened security for the day. Centre Daily Times, file

Penn State announced Wednesday that it’s adopting a new protocol for an active-attacker situation.

“Just as our campus police consistently train for and are equipped to respond to an active attacker, we want our community members to be equally prepared and know what to do in an emergency situation,” Charlie Noffsinger, assistant vice president for University Police and Public Safety, said in a press release.

Run, Hide, Fight, which is the national standard, replaces StaySAFE as the university’s official protocol. Run, Hide, Fight is endorsed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the FBI, according to the press release.

The protocol is simple, effective and easy to recall, Keith Morris, University Park police chief, said.

“That’s the great thing about Run, Hide, Fight,” he said. “It’s such a simple message: Run if you can, hide if you can’t, fight as a last resort.”

Morris said implementation of Run, Hide, Fight has been in the works for quite some time — it was not a response to the Aug. 8 tweet threatening a mass shooting at Beaver Stadium. Police arrested Charles Thomas Hitechew, of Gibsonia, for allegedly making that threat.

Penn State’s Community-Oriented Policing Unit is offering trainings for campus groups on Run, Hide, Fight. Individuals can also call and speak to an officer.

“It’s an unfortunate reality that these incidents occur across the United States of America,” Morris said. “And it’s not something people are comfortable with. It’s not something people want to think about. However, we need to be prepared in the event, the rare chance, our students, faculty or staff find themselves in one of these situations.”

When confronted by an active-attacker situation, the primary goal should be to get yourself somewhere safe and then alert authorities as quickly as possible, according to the release. A report of an active attacker would result in “rapid response” by law enforcement.

Penn State students, faculty and staff receive PSUAlert messages by email, and anyone can receive messages by text or phone call, by signing up at PSUAlert.psu.edu.

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“For the first couple of minutes of an attack, people must be able to think for themselves, act for themselves, and, to an extent, defend themselves, until the police can get there,” Noffsinger said. “So those first few minutes are critical, as acting quickly and decisively can truly be a matter of survival.”

Learn more at runhidefight.psu.edu.

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