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When they come to kill the kids: The critical need for “Immediate Action Rapid Deployment” in school invasions

By Rick Armellino
Baker Ballistics, LLC.

The nightmare scenario

Two armed men carrying handguns and knapsacks reportedly have entered a local elementary school. You are the closest responding patrol asset.

What will YOU do?

Upon your arrival, what happens next greatly depends upon the policy of the law enforcement agency that signs your paycheck. What you would do if your child was in this school may be vastly different than what your department expects you to do. Here’s a few of the most common patrol first responder actions:

1. Not hearing any gunfire, establish an outer perimeter to prevent escape and call for backup.

2. Hearing gunfire, wait for the predetermined amount of officers to arrive, make a plan, and enter the structure in accordance with your agencies’ active shooter response procedures.

3. Whatever you want, as your agency has no formal policy, training or equipment.

Historical background

Statistically, shootings have killed far more children at school than fires. Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent protecting school children from the threat of fire, while minimum training and resources are devoted towards protecting them from gun violence. For those who do not believe that school massacres are a realistic threat, there have been over forty documented school shooting rampages, the great majority of them occurring in the United States, beginning back in 1966.

The phenomenon of the suicidal killer has steadily increased in both frequency and victims. In addition to homegrown deranged predators, the U.S.-based radical Islamic terrorist cell now must be considered a credible threat to the safety and well being of our school-age children. It is well known that Al Qaeda leaders and followers consider American schools prime targets of opportunity. They know that a traditional delayed tactical entry following a period of protracted negotiation allows ample opportunity to stage the planned massive final carnage after the arrival of the worldwide media.

Containment & negotiation tactics at school: A deadly policy

Recent history has proven that the traditional police first responder tactic that requires the establishment of an outer perimeter while waiting for backup usually assures that the planned death of innocents will occur when the intruder is homicidal and suicidal. It is a common law enforcement belief that most armed school invaders probably wish to live and escape, and that aggressive actions initiated by first responders could “set them off”, and make the situation worse. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The decision to utilize containment and negotiation as automatic “default” tactics when the intruders’ motivations are not known is extremely risky, especially when innocent children are the potential victims. In the case of a homicidal and suicidal individual, waiting for them to go active and begin killing must not be the signal to begin aggressive pursuit and containment. By then, it is too late.

Every armed and hostile individual entering a public area must be considered to be homicidal and suicidal, unless credible information is known to the contrary. This knowledge cannot be quickly ascertained from a distance. The more time an aggressive police approach takes to happen, the longer the armed intruder has to control the environment and work their plan, the bolder the predator will become and the more unlikely a bloodless outcome is to occur.

From the moment an armed, homicidal and suicidal predator enters the building, the end plan is known only to them. In the case of a school intruder, they usually do not plan to leave the building alive. Nor do they plan on dying alone. It becomes the duty of the first responder to interrupt this murderous plan to minimize carnage at the earliest possible moment.

In the case of a terrorist school takeover, any delay of the first responder to actively engage the intruders will guarantee that ultimately, many innocents will die due to the delayed aggressive response. The sound of gunfire will not be heard upon arrival of the patrol officer, it will be eerily quiet as the terrorists gather children into a central location and set up bobby traps to slow down future rescuers. We know this, and so do the terrorists.

Law enforcement policymakers who do not allow first responders discretion and encourage them to approach armed school invaders are not delivering the quality of public safety their citizens deserve. In a dynamic school invader situation, first responding patrol officers are likely the only people on scene early enough to save innocent lives. But only when they are authorized, trained and equipped to do so.

Patrol-level “Immediate Action Rapid Deployment” (IARD): An effective aggressive tactic

The sooner first responding officers can establish close physical proximity to a homicidal and suicidal individual, the quicker the incident comes to a conclusion. In the majority of cases, these psychopaths kill themselves as soon as police gain close proximity, abruptly ending the carnage. Swift, aggressive contact is the key to interrupting a deadly plan of mass murder. An active shooter being pursued by police during a running gun battle is better than allowing the predator unlimited mobility and time to accomplish their planned murderous activities.

Recently, an off-duty officer in a large Salt Lake City shopping mall, armed with only a handgun successfully chased and cornered a well armed active shooter into a side alcove, interrupting the rampage and restricting his mobility. Responding on-duty officers were swiftly able to back-up the off-duty officer and kill the shooter. Prior to the running gun battle with the pursuing off-duty officer, nine innocents had been shot and five died. Not one additional citizen was shot after the shooter focused his attention towards this aggressive and heroic officer!

A note on modern equipment now available for patrol-level IARD

During the nightmare scenario of an armed school intruder, every second counts. Police administrators must consider empowering, training and equipping patrol officers to conduct “Patrol IARD” if the modern delivery of public safety and the saving of innocent lives is the goal.

The advent of the lightweight Baker Batshield® portable ballistic shield has made this patrol operation possible with a minimum of training. An amazing balance of first responder speed, accuracy, and ballistic protection has been achieved. First responding patrol officers now have the ability to utilize progressive Immediate Action Rapid Deployment (IARD) tactics by approaching armed individuals prior to, or during active shooter emergencies. Public safety is delivered in accordance with public expectations.

Visit for complete information, including live-action video demonstration.

Rick Armellino
Rick Armellino