This is a guest post by my friend Ron Borsch, a retired police officer and trainer. Ron is one of the most notable researchers in the “active killer” field and shares his thoughts on the issue. In this piece, he discusses the rapid increase in recent school shootings and what we can do to abate the problem.
Copyright 2018 Ron Borsch
We have entered an era with more active killer attacks than we have ever seen before.
I am a retired police officer and former professional police trainer, teaching police responses to Rapid Mass Murder© and solo officer active killer tactics (Single Officer’s Lifesaving Others©). I’ve watched and documented the history of Rapid Mass Murders© back to 1975. I’ve gleaned a significant level of insight into identifying the problems associated with an active killer attack. As a “Watchman,” over the years I have freely shared lifesaving research information via a myriad of interviews, podcasts, expert panel presentations, and my own published articles.
This article serves as the strongest warning I’ve ever issued.
THE STOPWATCH OF DEATH©
In 2017, I documented 30 different Rapid Mass Murder attacks in a wide variety of locations. These 30 attacks broke all previous records for numbers of Rapid Mass Murders in preceding years
Unfortunately, the first few months of 2018 are putting us on course to break the record yet again.
In the first five months of 2017, we observed a total of four Rapid Mass Murder© attacks in educational facilities. Two occurred in a high school, one in a kindergarten, and one at a University. In contrast, during the first five months of 2018, the Rapid Mass Murder© count at educational facilities numbered nine; seven in a high school, one in a middle school, and one in an elementary school.
IDENTIFY AND UNDERSTAND
We should first identify and fully understand the problem before addressing possible solutions.
Educational facilities (pre-school, K-12, colleges, and libraries) are historically the active killers’ preferred targets. Mass murderers don’t want a gunfight. They prefer targets containing only unarmed victims who can’t effectively fight back. Schools serve as the epitome of such a defenseless target.
You are foolish if you believe off-site police officers will arrive to an active killer attack in time to prevent any casualties. Innocents will be left YOYO© (You’re On Your Own) for an undetermined amount of time before police arrival. Only HALF of Rapid Mass Murder attacks are ever stopped by police or victims on the scene.
POLICE ARE SERIOUSLY HANDICAPPED
Unarmed citizens (including teens) fighting back contribute to the majority of the defensive actions that cause a killer to break off his attack. Why are unarmed victims stopping most of these active killer events? The simple adage of “When seconds count the police are only minutes away” largely holds true.
During any attack, there will be a delay in notifying police as victims are trying to ascertain what is happening. This delay tends to average around six minutes in length. The average Rapid Mass Murder© event duration is less than six minutes total. That fact by itself creates a significant handicap. Without getting a lucky break, the chance of police stopping the active killer is unlikely. That’s reality. The sooner one understands that “You’re on Your Own” and contributes to training effective on-site countermeasures, the less successful active killers will be.
WHO ELSE IS WATCHING?
We can learn much from this parable:
“When the watchman sees the enemy coming, he sounds the alarm to warn the people. Then if those who hear the alarm refuse to take action, it is their own fault if they die. They heard the alarm but ignored it, so the responsibility is theirs. If they had listened to the warning, they could have saved their lives. But if the watchman sees the enemy coming and doesn’t sound the alarm to warn the people, he is responsible for their captivity. They will die in their sins, but I will hold the watchman responsible for their deaths.” (Ezekiel 33:3-6 NLT)
Anyone can and should be a watchman in the sense of “If you see or hear something suspicious, say something.” In middle schools, high schools and colleges, the active killer threat is most often a current, suspended, expelled, or former student. For helpful clues in identifying potential active killers, see my previous article Profiling an Active Killer.
Over time, the active killer has invariably displayed numerous unstable or troubling symptoms, NUTS©. Other students and teachers would likely be the first to notice these symptoms and should sound the earliest lifesaving warning. Of course, we can only hope that school administrators and law enforcement have graduated from the school of common sense and are living in the real world instead of denial. If not, we see the type of miserable performance I documented in Systemic Failure of Law Enforcement.
DEFAULT OF CUSTODIAL RESPONSIBILITY
Overall, past school administrators’ defensive strategies have failed to keep armed active killers out of their schools. They have also failed at getting the very best protection, on-site armed and trained Guardians or Watchman into their schools. School officials have custodial responsibility for the safety of their students, yet they have done precious little to protect those in their charge.
No strategy will ever be 100% effective, but our schools and cops need to work harder to protect their students. School authorities must recognize their own plans are not working and solicit advice from tactical security professionals.
ROCKS AND BATS?
Remedies suggested by educators have not proven sufficient. Solving the problem of school violence is often beyond the scope of knowledge and experience of most educators. As examples, instead of adopting a more successful established defensive plan (on-site armed and trained good guys), authorities in two school districts in Pennsylvania have furnished every class room with a pail of rocks or a pile of 16 inch baseball bats to use as improvised weapons.
As a primary defensive strategy, this is foolish. As a last ditch plan, it starts to have merit, but will likely fail due to the effect of cognitive dissonance. Why? Over time, our children have been trained and conditioned with years of habituation for a zero-tolerance policy regarding violence in school. Why would we think that students will forget the years of training in passivity and non-violence to vigorously attack an intruder the moment their life is in danger?
In my experience, I have noted frequent failures by armed and reasonably well-trained police officers during high stress scenario training classes covering active killer response tactics in schools. If our cops can’t even reliably perform well under the stress of a training exercise, why do we think our students and teachers will step up and be able to effectively stop a killer by using a bucket of rocks?
SAVING LIVES, WHAT WORKS?
In 1974, Israel had a catastrophic mass murder of students and faculty in a school with a total of 25 people murdered and 68 wounded. Since that date, they have experienced only two similar attacks. How have the Israelis successfully stopped the majority of school shootings in their country? The Israeli government passed a law securing the perimeter of every Israeli school with armed security staff, and placed qualified armed teachers and volunteers in the schoolrooms. See resource video trailer “Good Guys With Guns”.
Where I see law enforcement, schools, and citizens doing better in the future is by reducing the number of victims in each attack. However, it is hard to keep up with the Copycat effect when active killers are attempting even more numerous Rapid Mass Murders©. The shame is upon the school administrators who fail to take effective preventative action. That must change. When school administrators know or should have known about problematic students yet choose not to act on that knowledge, the blood of students and faculty is on their hands.
Author: Ron Borsch served our country as a paratrooper in Viet Nam, served the community of Bedford for 30 years as a police officer and trainer, thereafter was commissioned by seven SEALE Chiefs to found, manage and serve as lead trainer at SEALE Regional Police Training Academy, (attended by 10 states), for a second career of 17 years. Today he manages the PACT Consultant Group, which does pro-bono presentations for local churches, civic groups, schools and writes as a hobby.