CRESTVIEW—A trip to the store turns deadly when another shopper pulls a gun and begins firing. hat do you do? That’s the question Crime Prevention Manager Ashley Bailey of the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office helped people answer during a seminar Tuesday.
What do you do?
That’s the question Crime Prevention Manager Ashley Bailey of the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office helped people answer during a seminar Tuesday.
Bailey works to prepare everyday citizens for times of crime and crisis. Her discussion at the Crestview Public Library focused on what to do and how to react in the event of an active-shooter scenario.
The FBI defines an active shooter as one who is “engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area." In such a scenario, “both law enforcement personnel and citizens have the potential to affect the outcome of the event based upon their responses.”
“There’s a big difference between defending your home and firing into a mass chaos,” Bailey said. Because of this, she advocated the “run, hide, fight” concept seen often in crime education and defense training.
In “run, hide, fight” using a personal weapon is reserved as a last resort because of the potential harm to other bystanders.
“An ideal situation is that [an active shooter] stands up right in front of you, you pull out your weapon and immobilize them,” Bailey said. “But that’s oftentimes not the case.”
In an FBI study of 160 active-shooting incidents, 70 percent occurred in a populated business or educational environment. Of those 160, only five ended with a non-law enforcement officer exchanging gunfire with a suspect, according to the report.
Still, it is important that a concealed-permit carrier has proficiency in the firearm they carry in case they have the opportunity for use, she added. This will also prepare the individuals for mechanical errors that might arise such as those involving the safety or a jam.
Developing an understanding of surroundings is also vital in the event of an active shooter, or other panic-inducing event, according to Bailey.
“It might not be a shooter, it might be a fire or some other emergency where you have to evacuate,” Bailey said.
Individuals should observe not only marked exits to a room or building but also areas that can serve as an exit, according to Bailey. Windows, for example, can be broken and used as an escape route if an exit is blocked or too far.
Continue to flee to a “far-off” location once an escape has been made, according to Bailey. Some training videos for “run, hide, fight” depict bystanders escaping a building and remaining in the immediate outside area. Bailey advised against that.
Hiding or barricading yourself becomes an option if the risk of running is too great or if it’s not an option.
“Look around the room and take note of what you could use to barricade or block a door,” Bailey said. “In [the library] for example, we have plenty of chairs to use, tables, a podium—all these things can be used as barricade options.”
Bailey also advised people to silence cell phones in emergency situations to prevent detection and to not pull a fire alarm, as this would trigger a fire rescue response rather than law enforcement.
The conversation didn’t focus solely on emergency situations, Bailey also discussed best practices for self-defense in public situations. In addition to situational awareness, Bailey advised people to carry a self-defense tool with them and lock car doors, especially while sitting in the vehicle.
While pepper spray is a commonly used tool, Bailey recommended that people should practice using the spray before an emergency arises. Due to windy conditions in Florida, she opts for a bar-like tool called a “kubaton” that can be attached to a keychain and used to disable a suspect without presenting harm while concealed or if handled by a child.
Bailey has been with the OCSO over 12 years and conducts safety classes for groups ranging in age from kindergarten to senior citizens. These include active-shooter training, fraud detection, church and business emergency plans, lost child situations and several other defense and prevention topics.
She previously worked for the Department of Children and Families as a social care worker.
“I tell people I have a social worker’s heart,” Bailey said. That is why she instructs classes tailored specifically to children and parents.
Bailey conducted about 135 seminars in 2016.