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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Role Players: Active Shooter Exercises and Mock Crashes

The 2014 Safety and Loss Control Workshops have concluded. We thank all of the approximately 1,200 attendees for their active participation and feedback.

Role players are a valuable training tool, but they must be
managed—especially when in a school setting.
One of the topics mentioned in the Training Safety Officer (TSO) course was the need to supervise and closely monitor role players in active shooter exercises—particularly when the exercise is held at a school. The topic became the subject of a couple of after-class discussions, as firefighters and police officers recounted incidents of role players going “off script.” The stories included incidents of this behavior happening at mock crash enactments as well, which are also sometimes conducted at schools.

There are multiple reasons why role players go off script—including boredom, inexperience, and (in some cases) a chance to perform in front of an audience. The reality is that off-script behavior does occur, and it needs to be managed. 

We encourage all departments involved in mock crashes or active shooter exercises this spring to be diligent about the use of safety officers. The lead instructor and the safety officer need to conduct a risk assessment of the exercise well ahead of the event, and they need cover the operational rules during their safety briefing.

Active shooter exercises and mock crashes will
require multiple safety officers.
Role players—particularly student role players—need to be carefully coached before the exercise and closely monitored during it. Consider assigning multiple safety officers to ensure that the role players do not start improvising.

You can control the human actions, and you can provide a safe environment for these events. Failure to control these exercises may have long-lasting repercussions for your city and/or your school district. If you want more information on the TSO program, contact me at


Responder Safety = Public Safety

Up next…IPAD's Law Enforcement Data Workshop

In the meantime, stay safe and be careful.


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