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Chief Fitch Attends Forum on Gun Violence in DC

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WASHINGTON D.C. (KMOX) - Police chiefs and Sheriffs from major cities around the U.S. attended a forum on gun violence. Titled “Police Executive Research Forum” the goal was to produce the latest research that had been done on so called active shooter situations, such as the school shootings in Connecticut and the Theatre shootings in Colorado.

St. Louis County Police Chief Tim Fitch attended the forum and heard from a researcher at Texas State University. The researcher made extensive studies on 82 domestic shootings. They were all classified as active shooter situations.

Chief Fitch said the researcher sighted some statistics:

  • 43% of active shooter situations were over by the time police arrived.
  • 7% of the shooters were shot by police.
  • 71% of the attacks were on targeted people.
  • 60% of the attackers used a pistol
  • 27% used a long gun (shotgun or rifle)
  • 39 % had multiple weapons.

Chief Fitch said the participants were told that the previous standard for what to do if an active shooter enters a premises (ex: lock doors and get under desks) is outdated, given the study. The new advice is to evacuate. “Get out of the building. Get out of the windows, however you can get out” said Chief Fitch. He said if evacuating isn’t possible then throw things like waste baskets, backpacks and chairs to distract the shooter.

The forum also discussed the shootings at a theatre in Aurora Colorado. Chief Fitch said because of that incident police have begun to carry trauma kits. “What we are finding is that when we have an active shooter, E.M.S. wont go into a hot zone so law enforcement has to triage patients and perform immediate life saving measures.” said Chief Fitch.

He said there was some discussion on mental illness. Fitch believes that the broad category of mental illness alone is not a per-condition that someone might shoot others. “If you focus on mental illness you will have a lot of false positives. You really can’t just focus on mental illness. You really have to focus on the behaviors of the individual. You really have to look at a perceived grudge or a perceived injustice , you know someone who has some narcissistic behavior. Those are the type of things that law enforcement and businesses need to look at.” said Chief Fitch “because we know that 71% of the attacks that were studied were on targeted people.”

Chief Fitch did not anticipate school districts wanting employees to carry guns. “School districts really can’t see themselves going there. There is no stomach for that” said Fitch.

He said there was no discussion at the forum concerning national gun control proposals.

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