Report reveals holes in DoD law enforcement active shooter response

Rachel Nostrant

Frederick Police Department officers prepare to enter Fort Detrick during an April 2021 shooting. A recent DoD inspector general report found inconsistencies in the way military installations train for active shooter situa
An evaluation of the Defense Department and its law enforcement organizations has revealed a lack of an active shooter response and training standard, which officials worry may ultimately “result in a delayed and uncoordinated response that could increase casualties” at military installations.

The evaluation was conducted to determine whether Defense Department law enforcement entities — Army and Marine Corps Military Police and Naval and Air Force Security Forces, among others — had established effective active shooter response policies and training.

According to the report, released Aug. 11 by the Defense Department’s inspector general, there are currently five policies pertaining to active shooter situations, but no overarching, consistent strategy.

Those five, “although related to emergency management, arming of personnel, lessons learned, incident response plans, and training, only provide minimal active shooter incident response requirements,” the report stated.

The IG added that the lack of a blueprint contributed to law enforcement officers not meeting the various expectations set forth across the five policies currently in place.

Recent shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas, where 19 children and two teachers were killed — one of whom was the mother of a Marine — have once more ignited fierce debates about gun laws and law enforcement response.

Similarly, military installations have endured numerous active shooter incidents — nearly a dozen in the last decade.

In 2009, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, opened fire on base at Fort Hood, Texas, killing 13 and wounding more than 30 others. Six years later, four Marines and one sailor were killed by an armed gunman in at the Naval Reserve Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

As part of the report, the IG set forth a series of recommendations to address the aforementioned shortcomings, which include updating the preexisting guidelinesinto a standard for active shooter response procedures, arming, use of force, training and equipment requirements.

The report also suggested to consolidate information and lessons learned in the aftermath of active shooter incidents, such as those at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, and NAS Pensacola, into a centralized database.