National Nuclear Security Administration

NNSA trains security police how to respond to an active shooter

May 16, 2019

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Participants in the NNSA active-shooter exercise were confronted with a real-world scenario. Here, a participant confronts an armed assailant.
Participants in the active-shooter exercise were confronted with a real-world scenario. Here, a participant confronts an armed assailant.
The workshop was designed to address inconsistencies among active shooter and workplace violence plans at NNSA’s labs, plants, and sites. Here, a participant establishes hallway security in a “warm zone” to allow entry by a rescue task force.
The workshop was designed to address inconsistencies among active shooter and workplace violence plans at NNSA’s labs, plants, and sites. Here, a participant establishes hallway security in a “warm zone” to allow entry by a rescue task force.

The prospect of encountering someone in the workplace who is intent on killing or attempting to kill people is a horrific mental image. But an active shooter scenario is one that Department of Energy (DOE) and NNSA security forces must be prepared to deal with quickly and effectively.

NNSA’s Office of Defense Nuclear Security recently conducted a weeklong assailant response workshop at the Hanford Site in Richland, Washington. It was attended by 85 federal and contractor protective security forces, supervisors, first responders, and others from across DOE and NNSA.

“Some members of my team recognized the need for us to be better prepared to address the possibility of an active shooter,” said Lewis E. Monroe III, Director of NNSA’s Office of Security Operations and Programmatic Planning. “These subject matter experts have worked tirelessly in putting this together.”

The weeklong assailant response workshop brought together more than 80 security and safety personnel from throughout the Nuclear Security Complex. Here, participants go one-by-one in responding to a simulated active shooter.
The weeklong assailant response workshop brought together more than 80 security and safety personnel from throughout the Nuclear Security Complex. Here, participants go one-by-one in responding to a simulated active shooter.

Pablo Maurino, one of the planners, said the workshop was designed to address inconsistencies among active shooter and workplace violence plans at NNSA’s labs, plants, and sites.

“The goal is for us to be the gold standard for assailant response by establishing a solid foundation across all sites,” he said.

The objectives included coming up with a common operating language, establishing fundamental response principles, and better understanding the legal issues.

Dave Grossman, a workplace violence expert, was the keynote speaker. His presentation provided a mental model of the threat NNSA and DOE security officers could face during such an event. That was followed by intense scenario-based training and table top exercises throughout the week.

During the NNSA active shooter training exercise at the Hanford Site, an expert demonstrates using a patrol vehicle’s engine block as effective cover.
Here, an expert demonstrates using a patrol vehicle’s engine block as effective cover.

Marshal Skinner of the Office of Defense Nuclear Security, said the intense realism of the scenario is what made it effective

“Every response task force security police officer was forced to interact with the environment of the scenario and either shape or be shaped by it. Every room, staircase, wounded person, and victim running and hiding presented a problem that required prioritization and solving. The screams, alarms, chaos, and uncertainty all became ‘normal’ by the end of the third day of training.”

Each NNSA site will be checked in six months for their adherence to the plan and another national workshop is planned next year. The Office of Defense Nuclear Security hopes to use the event to evaluate the possibilities of reviving the annual Security Police Officer Training Competition.

One participant in the NNSA active shooter exercise at the Hanford Site said the intense realism is what made the exercise effective. Here, an officer applies a tourniquet to a role player once the immediate threat has been eliminated.
One participant said the intense realism is what made the exercise effective. Here, an officer applies a tourniquet to a role player once the immediate threat has been eliminated.