Solo Officer Entry For Active Shooters: Ron Borsch Q&A Part 1

by Scott on June 30, 2009

Ron Borsch (bio at end of article) is the leading advocate of solo officer entry for active shooters. I spoke about him in my article, Effective Active Shooter Strategy, and Force Science wrote about his strategy in newsletter #97, Ohio Trainer Makes the Case for Single-Officer Entry Against Active Killers. Ron’s strategy was affirmed this March by Officer Justin Garner when Garner made a solo entry into a nursing home and stopped an active killer who had shot and killed 8 people.

Ron was kind enough to provide some of his thoughts and research in a Q&A format explaining why he strongly believes that single officer entry is the most effective tactic to stop active killers. I have split it into two articles because of it’s length. Part 2 will posted later this week. I have also attempted to emphasize the same words and phrases that Ron did.

Ron Borsch Q&A

Q. When parents and society have failed to identify and take preventive measures on suspected people, what has been the most effective measures of stopping the murder?
A. In reality, (not theory), and round numbers, rapid mass murder has been aborted primarily by a single courageous actor. 50% have been UNARMED citizens, 25% were armed citizens, and the remainder, have been police officers, (also primarily initiated by a SOLO officer).

Q. Is this copycat rapid mass murder and suicide a new problem?
A. Both yes and no, with a two-part explanation: First, the rapid mass murder by gunfire in schools and workplaces is only a couple of decades old. The 1999 Columbine High School mass murders, (with a few different nuances), was itself a copycat incident.

Columbine served as an awareness of a developing problem and turning point for adjusting law enforcement countermeasures. The immediate tactical solutions for a Columbine problem were in the correct direction: “Less Warrior-Protectors on site sooner”. But for those who should have been watching and considering post-Columbine incidents, they failed to update their “out-dated” training response models with the REALITY of active killer behavior. With half the active killers, (98% alone), and in half the time, (post-Columbine average 8 minutes), current active killers have murdered and wounded more victims than the two Columbine cowards.

The second part of the question regarded copycat suicide: Copycat suicides have been occurring for centuries, (“The Copycat Effect” by Loren Coleman). It is also important to note that wherever in the world that genocide has occurred, the populace murder victims were previously disarmed. We should learn from this. The reason why Israeli schools have NOT been effected by the world-wide problem of school and workplace rapid mass murder, is that they have multiple armed people at each school, including teachers and volunteer parents.

Q. What is the “Stopwatch of Death”© factor?
A. To put a “handle” on these incidents for tactically training 1st responders, our academy developed an easy comparison of these incidents. The “SWD” is a single numerical factor. (It is the total of attempted homicides, dead and wounded, divided by the total time, when known). For example, Columbine High School was a mere SWD factor of 2.1, while the kindergarten children gunned down in Dunblane Scotland was a SWD factor of 8.0, (Virginia Tech came close to this). The SWD makes it easier to understand how most of the rapid mass murder incidents since Columbine have a greater SWD factor, because they are occurring faster.

Q. Since the Officer-Survival movement, (The 10 Deadly Errors, Street Survival seminars, Etc.), police training, has emphasized waiting for back-up, How is acting differently, SOLO, now justified for a report of a shooting at a school or workplace?
A. It differs significantly, primarily by TIME – SENSITIVITY, and COMMON OUTCOME. For example, on a myriad of calls, (Robbery/Burglary alarms; Fights in progress; Stolen car; Traffic stops involving a wanted on warrants driver; DWUI stops; Store security holding a thief, Shots fired, Etc.), the common outcome, (even if police did not respond), is RARELY murder. Officer safety is important in these types of calls, as in these typical calls, police are injured and killed.

Remarkably, a shooting at a school or workplace, commonly does result in murder, sometimes multiple murders, even mass murder, (4 or more intentionally killed), and worse, has resulted in multiples of mass murder. Since saving lives is our priority, CITIZEN – SAFETY is more important than the safety of officers. This is a forced choice! Either the officer chooses to place himself at risk, protecting citizens at risk, or the officer defaults badly, to protecting himself before those he has sworn to protect. Once one correctly understands the problem, and TIME sensitivity, it is easy to see that there is NO middle ground here.

Q. Is the typical 1st responding solo officer a fair match for the typical active killer?
A. YES! The typical cowardly murderer is vastly out-matched by an average officer. It is empowering for the unenlightened 1st responder to know that the majority of rapid mass murder stoppages have been initially, and often completely by a single UNARMED citizen.

The active killer, merely by his choice of victims, (the defenseless), is a COWARD. Typically, these cowards act alone (98%), and have an end-plan to commit suicide (90%), before the police arrive and “hurt” them. As you can see, the typical active killer is NO Rambo. In the cowards race to complete his last act, he is very likely to be preoccupied, (another empowering point), while making his body-count statement, for anyone courageous enough to act.

Q. What about police departments having trained with multiple officer formations as a counter-measure to the active killer?
A. There appears to be little or no tracking history of a trained and organized multiple officer formation actually being successful in aborting rapid mass murder. “If we always do what we have always done, we will always get what we have always gotten”, (ACTING TOO LATE!).

Unfortunately, many of the alleged experts that promote these formations, (as an active killer countermeasure), have failed to do their homework on current events to discover the handicap they are facing, (using “turtle” speed to catch a rabbit). Financial investments, EGO investments, and the normal resistance to change are additional handicaps. One has only to look at current research literature and active killer tracking history TIMES, to see the futility of attempt to “round up a posse,” and the need for the fast solo actor concept.

Q. What if four officers show up at the same time on an active killer call?
A. Four officers, acting SOLO in different directions can potentially LOCATE the murderer FOUR TIMES FASTER than they could act as a group. (Actually, the SOLO officer potential is even quicker, as formations cannot move any faster than the slowest man, the rear guard moving backwards).

One must first understand and define the problem, before developing a focused solution. When we are enlightened by the reality and research facts of how TIME sensitive these incidents are, that we MAY only have precious few golden minutes to act, this is much easier to understand. We also have to remember that we volunteered for a dangerous job, our oaths of office and best practices safety priorities, which place the safety of citizens above our own. (1. Innocents; 2. Police; 3. Suspects, LAPD Ron McCarthy).

Q. What are the handicaps police face with rapid mass murder?
A. Primarily, the biggest handicap that police officers face is TIME, seconded by DISTANCE, then LOCATING the killer in a huge facility. This is more easily understood when we have a basic math explanation. Actually dealing with the killer, IDOL, (Immediate Defense Of Life), is the easy part.

Q. What do your numbers reveal about rapid mass murder?
A. Rapid mass murder begins when the killer says it begins, (action). There are TWO different time-lines, the killers action, and the police, (reaction). Unfortunately and typically, there is a 5 to 7 minute delay, in notifying police (Ed Sanow). Couple this with the fact that the average post-Columbine rapid mass murder incident is eight (8) minutes leaves precious little time for officers to both respond and LOCATE.

For example, the Northern IL University Police had a 29 second arrival time, and they were TOO LATE. Police arrival time is relatively unimportant when contrasted to LOCATING and STOPPING the murder.

Q. We understand the medical term “Golden Hour”, what do you mean by the term “Golden Minutes”?
A. With the basic quantifying math above, we see that handicapped by late notification, time and distance, police may only have a couple minutes with which to respond, arrive, enter, locate and STOP, (IDOL) the murdering. In our database of known times, by averaging the times and victims when the murders are NOT stopped, with the average time when the murders are aborted, (faster), the tracking history shows that acting one minute sooner has saved almost five (4.7) lives.

Q. Is this an almost impossible task?
A. Yes, but it can and has been done. It seems to depend a great deal on the luck-of- the-draw. Rapidly notifying police on what is occurring; Precise location; Police being nearby; Courageous non-hesitating 1st responders “flooding” the facility; Quickly locating the murderer; and Stopping him without warning under the IDOL principle, (Immediate Defense Of Life).

Q. Is there a problem locating gunfire?
A. YES! There is a myth here. Unless you are CLOSE enough inside, being able to hear gunfire over ambient noise in a huge facility that is compartmentalized, (rooms, closed doors, Etc. and where the construction had a sound proofing priority), gunfire may not be heard. This can be proved by distance experiments after school with .38 blanks. An additional problem, when you can hear gunfire, is the potential echo effect of sound in halls and rooms, which may slow the quick-locating process.

A quick analogy: Many police officers are already aware that the gunfire on their indoor range typically cannot be heard everywhere inside the agency or City Hall complex, (and these facilities are much smaller than many schools and workplaces).

Continue with the second half of this Q&A here: Solo Officer Entry For Active Shooters: Ron Borsch Q&A Part 2

Ron Borsch’s Bio

Ron Borsch is the manager and lead trainer at the post-graduate SEALE Regional Training Academy, in Bedford Ohio. A U.S. Army Viet Nam veteran, (101st Airborne), Ron is a commissioned Consultant-Trainer with Bedford Police Department, semi-retired after a 30 year career as a patrol officer, SWAT team operator-trainer, Rangemaster, Pistol Team Captain, and Active Arrest motor skills instructor.

Since 2000, he has specialized in teaching tactics to police first responder counter-measures for the active killer, in his “Tactical 1st Responder” course. Ron has become one of the foremost advocates for the SOLO officer countermeasure. He has defined and coined the terms: “Active Killer”, “The Stopwatch of Death” ©; “Golden Minutes”; “Multi-tiered / Multi-directional Solo Officer Responses”, and; “Tactical Loitering” for his Tactical First Responder courses.

Ron has also served as a paid consultant-evaluator for police departments during their dress rehearsal responses inside schools, (mass-murder by active shooter). He was also a keynote speaker for the “The Final Option” at the Minnesota 2008 Chiefs of Police Association Fall School Safety conference.

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