Stop the Bleeding


Beep. Beep. Beep. Multiple shots fire inside 123 Main Street.  RP reports multiple victims, the shooter is still active.  Units respond code three.  The engines race but not as fast as the heart or the mind. Update: The more shots heard.  3L3, on scene shots fired! I’m entering from the west.

ACTIVE SHOOTER! It is the buzz word, a common headline in our media outlets, a political soapbox, and an alarming and unfortunately not so uncommon event in this day and age.  This post is to help you see it from the eyes, minds and hearts of the first officers who arrive on scene and why they need to do what they do.

The Police mission is simple, “Stop the Bleeding!” What does this mean?  It means eliminate any and all threats that are causing harm to those we are sworn to protect. The reality: the first officer on scene will enter an active situation alone, if necessary, and seek out the gun fire.  As others arrive they will join the first officer and seek out the threat and eliminate the threat at all costs. Even if it means they are a personal risk. The officers will not stop and render aid to the injured, but step over the down person initially to seek out the threat and stop it. It means we will not escort you out of the danger zone.  It means we may have to push you aside, yell at you, and give you stern commands so we can accomplish our mission, “Stop the Bleeding.”

It is important to understand that we cannot distinguish you from the shooter-the threat- the one causing the bleeding, and we will address anyone with the necessary force needed to eliminate perceived threats. So what’s this mean to you? If you have intervened and subdued the threat on your own, make sure you have no weapons in your hands when we arrive.  If you are a member of the public who carries a concealed firearm, keep it concealed, be honest when we contact you, inform officers immediately.  If you have chosen to intervene with your concealed firearm and address or eliminate the threat to save your life or the lives of others, then make sure you do not have that weapon in your hand when the police arrive. You will be put in a position of submission before you can explain your action. Identify yourself, explain your actions, be prepared to be treated as a suspect in the chaos, but know that out of chaos comes clarity and clarity will reveal the truth, the real story. Remember why we are there, remember our mission, “Stop the Bleeding!”

The Police are not heartless, we care greatly.  We care enough to risk our lives for you, to take a bullet for you if necessary, and we will eventually do all the things you expect us of us.  We will care for the injured, get you to safety, and be there for you once we have successfully, “Stopped the Bleeding.”

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Brian Stephens is a 17 year veteran of EPD and former military police officer.  He served as a SWAT member for three years, attended two active shooter schools and served numerous high risk search warrants as part of the Drug Task Force.

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