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Trooper: Take threats seriously

3/27/2013

By MIKE CORN

mcorn@dailynews.net

In uniform and in plainclothes, badges and handguns were in ample supply at Fort Hays State University.

But so were notebooks and iPads, whose owners were taking copious notes.

The event was a melting pot of teachers and school administrators and law enforcement officers, all of whom poured into the conference room to learn about dealing with something none of them hope to experience: an active shooter.

But Kansas Highway Patrol Trooper Matthew Mullen said that's a luxury neither law enforcement nor educators can afford.

"If you think this is someone else's problem," he said, "I strongly suggest you reconsider.

"Unspeakable violence does happen."

The active shooter seminar Monday, bringing together educators and law enforcement officers, is the second of three being conducted across the state by the KHP.

While Mullen detailed school shootings at Columbine, Colo., and at Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Va., he said they can happen anywhere.

That's why schools and law enforcement agencies need a plan of action.

"Hoping is not a plan of action," he cautioned.

He also told of how the response has changed between the time of Columbine in 1999 and Virginia Tech in 2007.

At Columbine, first responders waited until special teams were sent in. At Virginia, the response was immediate.

That's the approach now taken, as the push is to actively seek out the shooter.

He urged teachers to prepare "go bags," complete with medical supplies beyond typical bandages. It's also important to include a class roster.

It's the same for law enforcement, however.

"My combat effectiveness goes down when I run out of bullets," he said.

During the afternoon session, attended by law enforcement, officers were encouraged to develop similar bags, filled with ammunition and medical supplies.

Mullen pointed to a series of violent video games as the driving force behind why "our kids learn to kill and are liking it."

He pointed to games such as Grand Theft Auto, Natural Born Killer, Manhunt 2, a game that involves killing law enforcement officers if the player is captured, and Postal, which entails simply killing characters in the game.

Mullen said a survey suggested 30 percent of second-graders had played either Grand Theft Auto or Postal.

While he detailed many warning signs, Mullen suggested teachers ignore nothing.

"Please take all threats seriously," he said.