Published: April 6, 2017
Sergeant John Zizz teaches active harmer response course

Sergeant John Zizz teaches the active harmer response course on Feb. 8, 2017, at the University Memorial Center. The "179" graphic on the screen behind Zizz indicates the number of shooting incidents that have occurred in the U.S. between 2001 and 2014.

If you go
Who: Students, faculty and staff
What: Active Harmer Class
When: Wednesday, April 26
Times: 8 and 10 a.m., 1 and 3 p.m.
Where: Space Sciences Building, room W312A/B
RSVP: Required

"By coming here today, you’ve taken ownership of your safety," Sergeant John Zizz of the CU Boulder Police Department's (CUPD) Training Unit told attendees during the February active-harmer response training sessions held on campus for students, faculty and staff.

Although one’s odds of being involved in an active harmer situation are close to the chances of being struck by lightning, people who have undergone training and find themselves in the midst of such an incident have a much higher probability of survival.

CUPD offers a series of four classes on workplace violence and active harmer response and prevention, generally held for entire departments in their office upon request. But following the November 2015 Paris attacks, they became inundated with requests for these classes.

In February, CUPD responded with a new course format: four sessions focused specifically on active harmer response and open to students, faculty and staff members from across campus. They saw great success with the new format and have scheduled additional active-harmer training sessions for Wednesday, April 26.

Sessions will be offered at 8 and 10 a.m. and 1 and 3 p.m. at the Space Sciences Building on East Campus. Advance registration is required, and each session is limited to 70 people. Please RSVP online now and feel free to email CUPD Training with any questions.

Responding to imminent harm

For the February training, Zizz led the first and last sessions, with Deputy Chief Ken Koch and Corporal Matt DeLaria presenting at 10 a.m. and noon, respectively.

  • Get out. If you can escape, don’t hesitate. Don’t wait for others to validate your decision; leave your things behind and go.

  • Call out. Contact the police as soon as you can do so safely. Don’t assume someone else is calling, and be prepared to provide useful information.
  • Hide out. If you can’t get out, find a place to hide yourself from view and, if possible, protect you should you encounter the harmer. Blockade the door, turn off the lights, spread out in the room and silence cell phones. If you can, call 911.
  • Help out. Are there people in your area who need help? Do they know what is going on? Remain calm and try to help others as best you can.
  • Take out. If there are no other options, you must be prepared to do what is necessary to neutralize the threat. Disrupt the harmer’s actions with total commitment, because second guessing yourself could be catastrophic.

The Active Harmer I course was designed as a reactive training, reviewing statistical data on active harmer incidents and introducing basic response options for imminent harm situations.

Zizz explained the university chose the term active harmer—defined as "one or more person(s) who are actively harming or attempting to harm as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time"—versus active shooter, because the broad terminology de-emphasizes the weapon and helps avoid too narrow a focus.

"An active shooter is an active harmer with a gun," Zizz said.

The presentation revealed statistics on active harmer incidents in the United States and featured the "Shots Fired!" video, followed by a discussion of the five keys to surviving an imminent harm situation (noted to the right). The session also offered advice on de-escalating angry patrons or co-workers, responding to suicidal persons and making yourself an undesirable hostage. There was opportunity for participants to ask questions and engage in discussion, as well.

In closing, CUPD Public Information Officer Scott Pribble informed attendees of the campus’ emergency alert systems (listed below).

He noted, in regard to the October Champions Center incident, because many people found the "take appropriate protective action" messaging confusing, the university will now use the phrase "Run. Hide. Fight." to alert the CU Boulder community of imminent harm situations, reinforcing the tactics presented in campus training materials.

While the chances of an active harmer incident occurring at CU are small, it is important all students, faculty, staff and campus visitors know how to react in such events.

If you are unable to attend one of the upcoming sessions, CUPD highly recommends watching the "Shots Fired" and "Run. Hide. Fight." videos.

Campus alerts and resources

Mobile messaging: Sign up for emergency text-message alerts to your mobile device on the CU Boulder Alerts website. (Note: Students automatically receive alerts, but faculty and staff members must opt in.)

Social media: Follow @CUBoulder and @CUBoulderPolice on Twitter for more frequent updates in the event of an emergency situation.

Computer messaging: The Alertus application is integrated with CU Boulder Alerts and will display emergency notifications on your desktop computer. Download for Windows and Mac on the OIT website.

Smartphone app: The public safety application LifeLine Response provides users with two unique options to call for help in case of an emergency. Visit the Police Department website for download instructions.

Behavioral Intervention Team (BIT): The BIT is comprised of the following groups. In the event of an emergency, always dial 911. For less-serious threat assistance, please contact CUPD, the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (FSAP) or the Students of Concern Team (SOCT).