Retired Police Chief Hopes to Help Reduce Active Shooter Response TimesOn February 14, 2018, our country (and the world) suffered from yet another senseless act of violence. The entire country instantly became aware of the tragic school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which left 17 people dead, making it the deadliest high school massacre in U.S. history. Retired Chief Tony Pustizzi, who was Chief of Police of the Coral Spring PD on that fateful day, is now spending his time educating groups on why it’s so important to reduce police notification and response time and how to make it happen. Guard911 spoke to Chief Pustizzi about his experience as a commanding officer and first responder to a school shooting and why he’s passionate about decreasing police notification and response times to these horrific acts of violence.
Reflecting on the Parkland School ShootingNo matter how much training and experience you have, you’re never truly prepared for a situation like the Parkland school shooting. “It’s hard to describe,” Chief Pustizzi said of his experience of the incident. “It’s a bit mind-numbing. Our team was trained and prepared for it, though. There’s a lot to think about logistically, but no time to think, so your training just takes over.” In 2018, when the call came into dispatch at the Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP), they forwarded the call to the Broward Sheriff’s Office. This was due to the fact that the Sheriff’s Office provided police services to the city of Parkland and required their deputies to be dispatched by their dispatcher. Policies have changed, but the process resulted in a delayed law enforcement notification and subsequent response time. Additionally, the school resource officer (SRO) inside the property was not actively communicating with his dispatch center, causing further delays. Due to the nature of the active killer emergency, and the school’s proximity to multiple jurisdictions, first responders from several different agencies responded. Each agency and team has trust and rapport within itself, but that isn’t always built across multiple teams. “It’s difficult having multiple teams respond, but we train for that,” Chief Pustizzi said. “We had to trust each other. We focused on working together and working with who we had responding.”
Why Decreasing Police Notification and Response Time Should Be a PriorityThe quicker law enforcement can get to an active killer emergency, the quicker the situation can be mitigated. The killer can be stopped. “Time is of the essence,” said Chief Pustizzi. Chief Pustizzi pointed out that because of current movements in the country, a lot of SROs are being pulled from schools. Historically, SROs have been the first officers on the scene at school shootings. But as they’re removed, notification and response time become that much more important. “If a school’s highest priority is the welfare and safety of students, teachers, and staff, it’s important that law enforcement is notified as soon as possible of any situation at the school that could possibly injure people,” said Chief Pustizzi. As the Parkland tragedy proves, dialing 911 does not accomplish this goal alone. Fortunately, there is a one-of-a-kind solution that’s proven to reduce both notification and response times – a Guard911 active shooter mobile app with the one and only Hero911 network of 60,000+ officers.
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