Westerville Business Learns How To Defend Against Active Shooter

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Emerson Network Power in Westerville held active shooter police training for its employees.(Photo: Debbie Holmes)
Emerson Network Power in Westerville held active shooter police training for its employees.(Photo: Debbie Holmes)

This fall active shooters have struck the Washington D.C. Navy yard and the Los Angeles International Airport.The rash of shootings has prompted some businesses in Central Ohio to train employees how to respond if an active shooter terrorizes their workplace. Local police departments are providing the training.

“All of our doors are badge accessed. Everybody signs in,” says Milana Le.

Milana Le manages safety for Emerson Network Power in Westerville. It’s not an easy task. The company has more than 100 employees in two buildings.

The company plans to upgrade its security cameras and intercom system so employees can communicate between buildings. And it conducts evacuation drills.

“We definitely came up with a plan of what to do so if there’s an incident in this building where does everybody go. We want them to go to the next building. Don’t get in your car, don’t leave. Just like any emergency evacuation we want to make sure that you’re accounted for,” says Le.

But the company is doing more than holding evacuation drills, locking the doors and monitoring the hallways.

The company has brought in Westerville police officers to train employees how to respond and possibly confront an intruder armed with a gun.

“The one thing I learned from the whole training was to do something is better than not doing anything,” says Le.

The Westerville Police department teaches local companies principles of the ALICE Program – an active shooter response program designed for schools.

Police Lt. Tracey Myers runs the training. He says early communication is the key.

“You need to develop a plan of some kind, an intercom system, instant message; whatever communication you have within your building. Most buildings have some sort of intercom, and you can get that information out,” says Myers.

Some of the plan comes from the Department of Homeland Security’s Run, Hide, Fight program. It says when a shooter is in a building, try to get away if you can. If you can’t, barricade in a room away from the shooter. Or if confronted by the shooter fight back.

“If your life is at risk, whether you’re alone or working together as a group, fight, act with aggression, improvise weapons, disarm him and commit to taking the shooter down.”–Department of Homeland Security video.

Other police departments in Franklin County have developed similar active shooter response training plans for organizations. Hilliard and Upper Arlington have them.

Westerville’s Lt. Myers with Westerville Police says his department will also work with daycare centers, churches and other places where people congregate and may be more vulnerable to gun violence.

“In these cases you never know where the bad guy is going to come into the building, front or at what location he’s going to come in,” says Myers.

Some business owners on State Street in uptown Westerville tend to worry more about shoplifters than armed intruders. But Debbie Bowers says she would consider getting more information on how to fight an active shooter.

“They could give us some ideas of what we might do if someone does come in, some things that might make us less tense, if that situation happened and more proactive as to what to do,” says Bowers.

Lt. Myers says the key is to have a plan. It could save lives.

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