Keeping an alert mindset and confidence during an active shooter situation is critical, a retired Los Angeles police SWAT officer told the West Los Angeles Community Police Advisory Board (CPAB) Tuesday night.
CPAB members and guests from neighborhoods in Pacific Palisades, Brentwood, Westwood, Bel Air, Beverly Glen and South Robertson gathered at the West L.A. Division station to hear retired officer Todd Rheingold's presentation "Surviving an Active Shooting Event" and watch a short movie called "Run, Hide and Fight."
Recent mass shootings and attempted shooting situations in public places, such as Tuesday's incident at a community college in Houston, TX, an armed robbery at the Nordstrom rack in Westchester, a gunman opening fire at Fashion Island in Newport Beach and the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, have not only revived gun control debate in America, but also put citizens on heightened awareness. Steering clear of personal opinion regarding the ongoing gun control talks in Washington, D.C., Rheingold spoke from 30 years experience with the LAPD.
"We've received quite a few questions at the station," said West L.A. Division Capt. Evangelyn Nathan.
Rheingold started in the Southeast Division, which has some of the city's highest levels of violent crime, gang activity and narcotics. He's worked undercover, and in the 1980s, moved to the Hollenbeck Division as a patrol officer. In the 1990s, he went to the Metropolitan Division to serve on SWAT.
"This is for daycares, the school teacher...and how we can help ourselves," Rheingold said.
CPAB members watched the YouTube video, which is also attached to this post and produced by the City of Houston Mayor's Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security. "Run, Hide and Fight" shows a public building during a typical work day and a man wearing sunglasses, a heavy hiking pack and carrying a shotgun enters and begins firing at people. It presents the three situations one needs to take during the carnage, and one of them is not to hesitate. (WARNING: Video contains some violence, but it is a reenactment for educational purposes.)
"I'm no hero," Rheingold said. "I worked for SWAT, but I was probably the most scared guy out there. What kept me going is there were guys behind me, and I wasn't going to let anything happen to them."
It took years of training on the shooting range and many mock and real life police situations that made Rheingold excel in the field.
"This all happened way before Columbine but not with 20 people killed at one time," he said about today's shootings. "First responders are not there to help the victims. They're only there to stop the shooter."
Jackie Koci, recreation director at the Rustic Canyon Recreation Center in Pacific Palisades, said Tuesday's talk will help her to retrain her staff on everything public safety related.
"We have to have confidence in ourselves during times of emergency," she said after the meeting. "We have an open field. We can't always hide."
For more information on CPAB, visit their website.