Active Threat Information

Situations involving “active shooters” and “active threats” are a serious concern for our nation’s university and college campuses.  An “active threat” situation can happen anywhere beyond campuses and schools including malls, businesses, special events, and within the workplace.  Fairleigh Dickinson University Department of Public Safety has conducted training with neighboring law enforcement agencies to provide an effective response to active threat situations. The University has an Emergency Operation Plan that will guide and support the campus during such an event. The following information is presented to assist members of our campus community with their individual awareness and preparation. We pride ourselves on working with our community in order to provide a safe environment in which our students, faculty, and staff can study, conduct research, and work. Individual preparation and awareness is an important factor in working together.

What is an “active threat”?

An “active threat” is defined as any incident which by its deliberate nature creates an immediate threat or presents an imminent danger to the campus community. In addition to offenders armed with firearms (active shooters), obviously, it is possible for other types of weapons or instruments to be used by offenders who want to cause harm.

How should I report an active threat (or any emergency on campus)?

All reports of emergencies on campus, life threatening and non-life threatening, should be reported to the Department of Public Safety or 911. Once you make contact make sure you provide the following information:

  1. Your location;
  2. Nature of the emergency;
  3. Information about the emergency, victim, suspect, injuries, or suspicious activity;
  4. Phone number of the phone you are calling from;
  5. Your name;

Important: Please remain on the line until Public Safety or 911 operator either terminates the call or advises you that you can hang up.

How will the police respond?

Police response tactics are to address the threat immediately and take action necessary to neutralize the threat as quickly as possible. The safety of all people involved in an “active threat” incident is of paramount importance and responding officers will forego assistance to injured parties for the express purpose of meeting and neutralizing the threat, and thereby reducing the overall number of casualties.

  1. Department of Public Safety personnel will respond immediately to obtain as much information as possible and await the police response.
  2. The local police will respond and take over the scene.
  3. Emergency medical services will respond immediately upon report or confirmation of injuries.
  4. The Campus Emergency Management Team will convene to manage the impacts of the event on the campus community and to lend support and resources to the tactical response agencies.

How will the campus be informed?

  1. When adequate and credible information is available, the campus will issue emergency notification messages to inform the campus and community of the threat and as much information as possible. Messaging systems have limitations, so expect to receive abbreviation action steps to take for your personal safety.  If you receive a message, share that information with others in your general area.
  2. The following messaging systems may be used to keep the campus informed during and after the event –
    1. Emergency text messaging
    2. Mass broadcast media – radio and television
    3. Website postings – campus and department homepages
    4. Campus phone tree
    5. Email
  3. Notes on the use of cell phones – To assure their personal safety and the safety of others, individuals are strongly encouraged to minimize the use of personal cell phones unless it is to report to authorities on the status of the incident. Mass use of cell phone systems can result in system overloads and the general failure of the system until cell phone usage diminishes.

What security measures are in place on campus?

Fairleigh Dickinson University campuses are protected and served by a full time Public Safety staff. Additionally, local police will respond and take over any major crime scene and can be joined by other area law enforcement agencies. Emergency phones are located around campus both internally and externally to the campus buildings.  These can be used to contact the University Department of Public Safety. Campus departments now have emergency operations plan Field Guides to assist and direct their response during a given emergency.

How can I best protect myself?

Please see the video In case of an active shooter incident

The following guidelines are intended to provide information to individuals who have found shelter and/or found themselves engaged in an “active threat” situation. They are intended to improve both individual and group levels of personal safety.

“Active threat” situations are very dynamic and they evolve quickly. Individuals need to assess their situation and be prepared to make decisions in a matter of seconds.  An “active threat” situation typically does not last for a long period of time unless it evolves into a hostage situation.

Fight or Flight – When faced with an immediate threat of superior force and tactical advantage, the natural human reaction is fight or flight. Assessments must be made at the time of the incident to determine where the threat is located and if there is a safe direction of flight away from the danger.  Certainly if you are in a position to escape from the incident safely, you should do so.  If you can assist others around you without placing yourself in danger, that is your personal choice.  Your personal objective is your own survival.  If you cannot leave, then your choice is limited to either active or passive resistance.  Circumstances and personal choice will dictate whether active resistance may be appropriate.  Following are some general guidelines for those considering active resistance-

  • If you move, be immediate in your actions and move quickly at right angles away from the threat;
  •  Use large solid objects such as desks, furniture and concrete walls to cover your escape route whenever possible.  The goal is to limit the aggressor’s visual opportunities and provide yourself shielding against the weapon of the aggressor;
  •  Victims significantly outnumbering the offender(s) can assist if moving to overpower the aggressor;
  •  Look for objects that may be used as self defense weapons against the intruder or provide protection from the intruder;

Passive resistance – the act of succumbing to the wishes of the offender will place you under almost total control of the offender.


You cannot make this decision for others trapped in the situation; however, a group may reach a common conclusion.

Recommendations for Individual/Group Safety

  • All people entering classroom and lecture hall facilities (or any mass meeting area or private office) should assess their environment, familiarize themselves with exits, routes of escape, and make a conscious personal decision regarding what their response would be to an incident.

  • If you are involved in an active shooter incident, your urge may be to panic. This is completely natural, but if you can resist this temptation, your chances of survival will increase.  Tell yourself to remain calm and begin to make decisions based on your personal choices.  Preparing for such emergencies even if through mental rehearsal based upon these principals can assist in diminishing panic.

  • As soon as it is safe to do so.

  • If you are indoors and the threat is in your location, evacuate the building by a safe route when it is safe to do so. If it is not possible to evacuate, seek refuge in an area of safety, preferably behind a locked door.

  • If immediate safe flight is not available or is not the best course of action, the simple principle of shelter in place (seek refuge, lock down), can save lives during an active threat incident.  If you must seek refuge, secure all doors and windows as quickly as possible and barricade as many items between you and the threat as possible (i.e. tablet arm chairs, tables, cabinets, etc.).  The goal is to seal off areas to prevent the intruder access.

  • Render first aid to injured people who may be in or near your area.  Do this so long as it is safe to do so.

  • Do not attempt to make contact (verbal or physical) with the individual responsible for the threat unless no other option is available.

  • If you must have contact with the individual posing the threat, attempt to find some cover (solid objects) to place between you and the individual.   Minimize the target area by crouching into a position behind solid objects and limit your exposure to the threat.

  • Once in a secure location, DO NOT open the door for anyone but the Police.  Before allowing access to the room to anyone, make sure they do not represent a threat to you or others.  The attacker may pretend to be an authority or victim to attempt to gain access.

  • DO NOT approach police officers as they attempt to locate and neutralize the threat.  During this time, the officers are trained to seek out and respond to the threat, which could include the use of deadly force.  They are not able to assist with the evacuation or medical assistance to injured parties.  Once the threat has been neutralized, the officers will return immediately to organizing the evacuation of the facility and obtaining or providing emergency medical procedures.

How can I help prevent an active threat?

  • Personal awareness of your surroundings, what is going on around you, the distance to nearby windows and doors is perhaps the best method to assure your personal safety. If something about your situation does not appear to be “right”, be prepared to act in your best interests.
  • Monitor others for signs of stress or severe depression.  Report any concerns to the appropriate person(s) (i.e.  Supervisor, resident advisor, professor, counselor, Public Safety, Dean of Students, Human Resources, etc.)
  • Early detection of individuals having personal problems or demonstrating odd or threatening behavior may be the best method for reducing the likelihood of “active threat” events.  The University has exceptional resources to assist people through the Counseling Centers or the Human Resources Department.
  • The Department of Public Safety can speak to individuals or groups about any crime prevention topic. To schedule a meeting contact the Director of Public Safety
  • Report suspicious activity!!!  If any situation appears odd, “out of place,” suspicious, or “makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck,” report it immediately to the Department of Public Safety.