Recent mass shooting has local law enforcement looking at how to better prepare the public

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The mass shooting in San Bernardino has local agencies looking at the way they can better prepare the public in the event of an active shooter.

Most law enforcement agencies already train officers about engaging gunmen during these types of crisis'.

The Columbine High shootings radically changed the way police officers respond to active shooter scenarios. But, they are also finding the public needs to know what to do during those critical moments before officers arrive.

At the Fresno County's Sheriff's Office how to confront an active shooter is part of training. "Just like anything else, law enforcement evolves, tactics evolves, technology evolves-- and Columbine was the catalyst for that," said Robert Salazar, Fresno County Sheriff's Office.

A change in how officers approach gunmen came in 1999 after 13 people died in the Colorado massacre. Not long after, deputies in Fresno County were issued a rifle, to add to their pistol and shotgun options. "Sometimes a shotgun is a better tool for that. But you are talking from a distance, the rifle is a better tool for that. So a lot depends on the situation and we force our deputies to evaluate each incident and determine which tools better apply for that specific incident," said Salazar.

A new report out by the Secret Service shows some law enforcement officers need to be better prepared for mass shootings and, more importantly, at teaching the community what to do before first responders show up. "So to think about where they can hide, where they can run to, and what they can use for weapons if they need to fight. And I think once you engage your thinking process, you can look around and see what you have available to fight if you need to," said Margaret Mims, Fresno County Sheriff.

Fresno County Sheriff's Deputies are already going into classrooms and businesses teaching these skills in a program called Seconds to Survive. The curriculum gives teachers, students, and employees ways to quickly analyze the threat and their surroundings. Sadly, with each mass shooting, more knowledge is gained to help law enforcement officers better prepare for the next gunman on a mission. "Experience is a cruel teacher. And even from San Bernardino, we're gonna learn from it," said Salazar.

Several other local police agencies also train for these scenarios.

Each mass shooting seems to resurrect the conversation and also revisit tactics.
Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.