Research project utilizes school resource officer during active shooter situation

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By: Marisela Burgos

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Sept. 15, 2014)-- A team at the Purdue Homeland Security Institute at Purdue University has been conducting research to find ways to improve public safety at secondary schools.

Their team has been doing research for a little more than two years. This started as a class project. Their research is looking at ways to slow down an active shooter, who may be targeting people at a secondary school.

Eric Dietz is the director of the Purdue Homeland Security Institute. Dietz is also a professor in the College of Technology. He said around the time their research began, the Newtown, Connecticut tragedy happened.

“When lives are lost in these situations, it’s never a good feeling and we know we’re not going to be able to save everybody. There’s just no way to prevent every possible outcome that may occur, but we do know that we can help mitigate that impact,” Ph.D student Adam Kirby said.

The data the team collected so far indicates having a school resource officer is valuable. Their scenario places a school resource officer at a secondary school that only has one building. It shows the benefits of having that officer there versus not having a school resource officer.

“If we can do things to drive down the response time like adding the police resource officer to the schools, we can drastically reduce the number of casualties,” Dietz said.

Dietz said their data looks at other possible methods too. Dietz said police chiefs have contacted them because they wanted to use some of their data to ask for more resources.

“This is just one of those research things that we try to do every day and try to figure out how we can use these events to teach and show our students the value of research and how it can be used every day to improve policies and hope to improve our public safety,” Dietz said.