Active Threat

Each individual is ultimately responsible for their own safety.  In any response to an “active threat” on the MU campus, the University Police will implement any and all means necessary to neutralize the threat. The University Police Department will utilize all resources both on a proactive and reactive basis to ensure the safety of our campus community.  In most cases a response to an “active threat” will involve a coordinated response from multiple law enforcement agencies. Remember, campus emergency preparedness is everyone’s concern! A significant number of issues regarding personal safety is included below. 

Law Enforcement Tactics –

Law enforcement priorities during an “active threat” situation have changed since the incidents at Columbine High School and Virginia Tech.  Police response tactics, as witnessed during recent events, are to respond to the threat immediately and take such action as is necessary to neutralize the threat as quickly as possible.  The safety of all persons 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.


An “active threat” is defined as any incident that by its deliberate nature creates an immediate threat or presents an imminent danger to the campus community.

  1. Types of “active threats”:
    1. Active shooter
    2. Hostage/barricaded subject
    3. Sniper
    4. Suicide/Homicide bomber
    5. Known or suspected terrorist threat (biological/chemical threat)

Notification Procedures:

In the event that an “active threat” becomes apparent in any campus location (internal or external) the threat should be reported immediately (as soon as it is safe to do so) through one of the mechanisms that follow:

  1. Call 9-1-1 (from any phone) and relay our street address as 820 Conley Avenue.
  2. Call the University Police at (573) 882-7201

Campus notification procedures:

The MU campus will use the following systems to notify campus faculty, staff, students, and parents of an existing “active threat” to MU (options 1, 2, & 3 will likely be activated almost simultaneously).

  1. Text/Email messages
  2. Alertus Beacons
  3. Automated Phone Message
  4. MU Alert Website

In addition to the above means of communication, the University will also seek to use public mass media (radio and TV) for appropriate announcements to keep the MU campus informed.

Individuals are encouraged to minimize the use of personal cell phones unless it is to report the incident or to assure their personal safety or the safety of others. Mass use of cell phone systems typically result in system overloads and the general failure of the system until traffic diminishes.

Departmental notification procedures:

Hulston Hall (law school and law library) has established an internal notification system to keep staff informed on the status of any “active threat”. Systems that will be used to inform staff of the initiation of an “active threat” situation include:

Zone team responders:  Notifications of an “active threat” situation will be made to persons in these areas as long as it is safe to do so without endangering departmental personnel.

Law School – Zone 1 Registrar’s Office

Law Library – Zone 2 Building Coordinator


Sub-plaza/basement (including restrooms & Custodial closets)

Zone 1: Admissions

Zone 2: Library Staff

1st Floor (including restrooms & Custodial closets)

Zone 1: Career Development Staff

Zone 2: Computer Labe and Circulation Desk Security

2nd Floor (including restrooms & Custodial closets)

Zone 1: Advancement Office and CSDR Office

Zone 2: Library Staff (check staff lounge)

3rd Floor (including restrooms & Custodial closets)

Zone 1:Associate Dean and Business Administration Manager

Zone 2: Library Staff

Paging/Public Address Systems

Notifications to persons occupying public space:

Hulston Hall (law school and law library) has identified the following public spaces within its area of control. Notifications of an “active threat” situation will be made to persons in these areas as long as it is safe to do so without endangering departmental personnel. These spaces are:

  1. Law Library Circulation desk, reserve room & open common area: 113, 123, 123A
  2. Computer Lab: 119, 120, 120A/B
  3. Law Library open stack area(s): 12, 218, and 327
  4. Classroom(s): 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 112
  5. Conference room(s):  111, 208, 224F, 229, 303A, and 332/332A
  6. Seminar room(s):  107, 109
  7. Group study room(s):  218A, 218B, 222, 327A
  8. Smart Suites:  218J, 218L, 218M, 218P, 327J
  9. Student Fire Place Lounge and kitchen area
  10. Restrooms

Guidelines for Protection

“Active threat” situations are very dynamic and they evolve quickly.  Individuals should 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.

Individual / Group Safety:

  1. Stay calm and assess the situation; determine the location of the threat if possible.
  2. Call 9-1-1 or University Police at (573) 882-7201 as soon as it is safe to do so. The street address for Hulston Hall is 820 Conley Avenue.
  3. Evacuate the area by a safe route if possible, if not seek an area of safe refuge.
    1. Run away from the building as quickly as possible.
    2. If it is known that the threat is of a chemical or biological nature and the decision is made to evacuate, be sure to evacuate to an area that is either uphill (higher ground) or at least in the opposite direction from the prevailing wind. Do not evacuate in the direction the wind is blowing during such an attack or threat.
    3. Run Option:
      1. Run in a zigzag pattern
      2. Cover your head with a book bag, books, or other items that would offer some level of protection
      3. Do not stop running until you are well clear of the building
    4. Window Option:
      1. Consider if a fall from the window kill you
      2. Break the window, if necessary
      3. Make an improvised rope out of clothing, belts, or any other item that can be used to limit the distance you will fall.
      4. Hang by your hands from the window ledge
      5. Attempt to fall into shrubs, mulch, or grass to decrease the potential for injury
  4. If you must seek safe 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 armchairs, tables, cabinets, etc.).
    1. Tie-down the door, if possible, by using a belt attached to the door handle.
    2. Cover any windows that may be in the doors.
    3. Look for alternate escape routes (windows, additional doors in the area you are sheltered in, etc.).
    4. Set your cell phone to vibrate or silent.
    5. Stay low to the ground and remain as quiet as possible.
    6. Breathe to manage your fear – focus your mind.
  5. Once in a secure location, be cautious of opening the door for anyone but the Police.  This includes others seeking refuge, as this may be a ploy by the attacker to gain access. Be wary of leaving a secure location during an active threat situation.  Be alert and aware of your surroundings.  Keep in mind the fire alarm may be used to lure you out to a vulnerable location.
  6. Be prepared to combat the subject to neutralize the threat if your life is in imminent danger. Active resistance may increase the chance of survival, but this is strictly a personal decision.
    1. Position yourself in the room in a location that will allow for the element of surprise if the threat(s) enters.
  7. If you are barricaded in a room, identify objects that could be used as projectiles or weapons to deter the threat from pursuing you at your location. Examples may be student desks, keys, shoes, belts, books, cell phones, iPods, book bags, laptops, pens, pencils, etc. or any item capable of being launched or used against an attacker. Articles of clothing can be used for protection against a knife-wielding attacker.
    1. IMPORTANT: During “active threat” situations, the decision to resist the threat is an individual decision that no one person can make for anyone else. Active resistance may assist with your personal safety, the safety of the group, and increase the chances of survival.  When offering resistance, there are NO guarantees that NO one will be injured. 
    2. Throw anything available at the shooter(s), aiming at the face to distract his/her aim
    3. Fight to survive! – bite, kick, gouge eyes, etc.
    4. Continue to fight until the shooter(s) is no longer a threat
    5. Use all available weapons to attack and secure the shooter(s) – anything can be a weapon
    6. If you are fortunate to be in a group, develop a plan as a group for how you will combat the attacker posing the threat should he/she gain access to your area of refuge. Frequently it is possible to overwhelm an attacker if multiple people resist or attack from different directions at the same time. While this reduces the risk of numerous serious or fatal injuries to the group as a whole, the chances of someone being injured is still present. This is a risk that the group must accept with any plan.
      1. Attack in a group (swarm)
      2. Grab the shooter’s extremities (arms, legs/head) and take him/her to the ground using bodyweight to secure him/her. Each member of the group is responsible for securing a single extremity.
  8. If you incapacitate the threat:
    1. Call 911 and advise law enforcement the threat(s) is down.
    2. Provide your location and stay on the line, if possible.
    3. Secure the suspect (belts, bodyweight, etc.).
    4. Move any weapons away from the shooter, but DO NOT HOLD A WEAPON
      1. Weapons should be secured in a trash can.
        1. If no trash can is available, secure the weapon as best possible.
    5. Do not appear threatening to responding law enforcement officers. RAISE YOUR HANDS and DROP TO YOUR KNEES.
    6. Render first aid to injured persons that may be in or near your area.  Do this so long as it is safe to do so.  Simple first aid includes applying direct pressure to the wound and elevating if possible.  Trained CPR/AED personnel will perform lifesaving treatment (if necessary) with equipment located in the following areas:  AED’s located on the wall (to the left) of Room 121 (law library) and directly across from Room 204 (law school).
  9. 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 assistance.
  10. Do not attempt to make contact (verbal or physical) with the individual responsible for the threat unless no other option is available.
  11. 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.

Recommended Practices

  1. Be prepared and aware of your environment!  Anticipate the unexpected.
  2. Incorporate “active threat” preparedness into each department’s BEP
  3. Practice these emergency operations plans once implemented so each department will have general guidelines on how to react in a crisis.
  4. Monitor co-workers and others for signs of stress or severe depression.  Report any concerns to your supervisor.
  5. Early detection of individuals having personal, family problems or demonstrating odd or threatening behavior can reduce the likelihood of “active threat” events. The University has resources to assist these persons through:
    • The Counseling Center (
      • Address:
        119 Parker Hall
        Columbia, MO 65211
      • Phone: (573) 882-6601
    • The Employee Assistance Program (
      • Address:
        102 Parker Hall
        Columbia, MO 65211
      • Phone:  (573) 882-6701
    • The “At Risk” Committee
      • Committee Chair:  Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs
      • Phone:  (573) 882-6776
    • The University Police Department
      • Address:
        901 Virginia Avenue (Virginia Avenue Garage)
        Columbia, MO 65211
      • Phone:  (573) 882-7201