Lehigh University Police Department
Finance & Administration

Q&A - Active Shooter Emergency Response

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This past week, the LUPD offered two sessions of a presentation on how to best respond in an active shooter situation. Following the presentation, there was a question and answer session.

We'd like to share the information that was discussed in these presentations, as well as the following link to a brief video that was designed for college campuses by the California State University.

We strongly encourage you to take a few moments to view this:


Below is some additional information that was shared in response to questions that came up during these sessions:

  • What is the best advice you can give to someone who finds themselves in an active shooter situation?

Try to overcome your sense of disbelief that this is actually happening. The time you take to process this development and react to it should be as brief as possible. Even seconds can save your life or the lives of others.

  • What can I do to prepare for such a situation?

Maintain situational awareness wherever you are. Look for places to exit, or items that could be used as a weapon, or pieces of furniture could be pushed into place to barricade a door. Identify an office or classroom that locks from the inside which could be used a safe room in an emergency. Be prepared to leave your belongings, if necessary. And note the behavior of others -- if you have a sense that something is wrong or that you may be in an unsafe situation, trust your instincts. Share that information with someone - a professor, a Gryphon, an administrator, a police officer or a counselor. That one piece of information might be helpful in identifying someone in stress. You can also make sure you have access to important updates in an emergency situation, and that you can quickly contact law enforcement and emergency response resources. Please consider downloading the HawkWatch free personal safety app at Lehigh.edu/hawkwatch. The app also includes information on how to respond in many emergency scenarios and offers direct contact to the LUPD and other resources.

  • Should you pull a fire alarm if there is an active shooter in your building?

No. Call the LUPD at 610-758-4200 (program it into your phone) as soon as possible. Be prepared to provide specific information as to the location, whether there is more than one shooter, and a physical description, if possible. When gathering visual information for a description, start from the head down. If there is a vehicle involved, make note of the type and the license plate number, if possible. Warn others about the shooter and the location as you are exiting the building, or attempting to hide. Your goal is to put as much time and distance between you and the shooter as possible, but do not pull the fire alarm. Doing so will encourage people inside to attempt to exit and - depending on the location of the shooter -- you may be driving people into a more dangerous situation.

  • How will I know if a noise I hear is really a gunshot?

If you think it is a gunshot, act accordingly. Do not wait for confirmation. Remember that gunshots sound different than they do in the movies. It is always better to be safe than sorry. At the very least, do not dismiss it.

  • Why should we call the LUPD instead of 911?

The LUPD has a dispatcher on duty 24/7 and LUPD officers can reach your location on campus in seconds. In addition, LUPD officers are more aware of campus locations and building names than officers from other departments. It is possible that more than one police department would respond, but the quickest response would come from officers who are already on campus.

In the on-campus sessions held this week, the LUPD also offered to make presentations to on-campus groups, organizations, res halls and offices, with site-specific recommendations regarding escape routes and other useful information. Please don't hesitate to contact us with your request by emailing me at jds517@lehigh.edu.

Chief Jason Schiffer

Assistant Chief Christopher Houtz

Lehigh University Police Department