University of Hawaiʻi — West Oʻahu

Active Shooter Preparedness and Response Plan

An active shooter is an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area; in most cases, active shooters use firearms and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims.

Active shooter situations are often over within 10-15 minutes. Immediate deployment of the Honolulu Police Department is required to stop the shooting and mitigate harm to victims. Before the police arrive, you must be prepared both mentally and physically to respond to an active shooter situation.


Preparedness & Prevention

Be informed and preplan

All faculty, staff and students are highly encouraged to study building evacuation maps posted throughout the campus and walk the exit routes to familiarize yourselves with the routes. You can also preplan for the areas you regularly spend time in, such as your classroom, your office, the cafeteria, the library. Think about what you would do to protect yourself in these areas.

Study the response guidance and attend trainings when offered

Knowing what to do in an emergency situation and practicing what to do (in drills) will help to prepare you mentally and physically to respond to in an emergency. Emergency plans are posted on the UHWO emergency webpage and email announcements of plan updates, training opportunities, and drills will be sent out periodically.

If you see something, say something

Be aware of indicators of potentially violent behavior and report it to Campus Security. Each and every one of us can make a difference in prevention. UHWO is currently formalizing a process, based on national best practices, to receive reports of UHWO affiliated individuals who display indicators of potentially violent behavior, to manage and access the information in a professional way, and to determine if an individual is on a trajectory towards violent behavior. Reporting can be done anonymously or confidentially.

Individuals typically do not just “snap,” but display indicators of potentially violent behavior over time. If these behaviors are recognized, they can often be managed and treated. Indicators of potentially violent behavior may include one or more of the following (this list is not comprehensive, nor is it intended as a mechanism for diagnosing):

  • Increased use of alcohol and/or illegal drugs
  • Unexplained increase in absenteeism
  • Vague physical complaints
  • Noticeable decrease in attention to appearance and hygiene
  • Depression / withdrawal
  • Resistance and overreaction to changes in policy and procedures
  • Repeated violations of policies
  • Increase severe mood swings
  • Noticeably unstable, emotional responses
  • Explosive outbursts of anger or rage without provocation
  • Suicidal; comments about “putting things in order”
  • Behavior which is suspect of paranoia, (“everybody is against me”)
  • Increasingly talks of problems at home
  • Escalation of domestic problems into the schools environment or workplace; talk of severe financial problems
  • Talk of previous incidents of violence
  • Empathy with individuals committing violence
  • Increase in unsolicited comments about firearms, other dangerous weapons and violent crimes


Responding to an Active Shooter

Options for Consideration based on the Department of Homeland Security guidance.

There isn't a one size fits all response plan for an active shooter

You must quickly determine the most reasonable way to protect your own life. Faculty and Staff, remember that students and the public are likely to follow your lead during an active shooter situation. The following options are provided by the Department of Homeland Security.

Good practices for preparing for an active shooter situation in any area:

  • Be aware of your environment and any possible dangers
  • Know the locations of the two nearest exits in any facility you visit
  • If you are in an office, stay there and secure the door
  • If you are in a hallway, get into a room and secure the door
  • As a last resort, attempt to take the shooter down. When the shooter is at close range and you cannot flee, your chance of survival is much greater if you try to incapacitate him/her.
  • Call 911 when it is safe to do so (see below for information to provide when you call 911)

1. RUN

If there is an accessible escape path, attempt to evacuate the premises. Be sure to:

  • Have an escape route and plan in mind
  • Leave your belongings behind
  • Help others escape, if possible
  • Evacuate regardless of whether others agree to follow
  • Prevent individuals from entering an area where an active shooter may be
  • Keep your hands visible
  • Follow the instructions from police
  • Do not attempt to move wounded people
  • Call 911 when you are safe (see below for information to provide when you call 911)

2. HIDE (“Lockdown” means take any measures to prevent someone from entering your hiding place)
  • If evacuation is not possible, find a place to hide where the active shooter is less likely to find you.

Your hiding place should:

  • Be out of the active shooter’s view
  • Provide protection if shots are fired in your direction (a room with a closed and locked door)
  • Not trap you or restrict your options for movement

To prevent an active shooter from entering your hiding place:

  • Lock the door, if possible. Faculty and staff are encouraged to know how a door to their office or classroom can be locked, if possible, and to have keys at the ready.
  • Blockade the door or entrance with heavy furniture. Know if your doors open inward or outward and have a plan in mind for preventing someone from accessing your space.

If the active shooter is nearby:

  • Lock the door, if possible.
  • Close any blinds or curtains. Faculty and staff are encouraged to learn how to close any blinds/shades/curtains in their area.
  • Turn off the lights and keep still so as not to activate the lights by motion
  • Silence your cell phones.
  • Turn off any sources of noise.
  • Hide behind large items (desks, cabinets).
  • Remain quiet.
  • Remember that the shooter may try to lure you out of your hiding place. Do not leave your hiding place or unlock/open the door until Campus Security and/or HPD announce themselves and manually key the door open.
  • Call 911 if you’re unsure about it being safe to leave your hiding place.

If evacuation and hiding out are not possible:

  • Remain calm
  • Call 911, if possible, to alert police to the active shooter’s location (see below for information to provide when you call 911)
  • If you cannot speak, leave the line open and allow the dispatcher to listen


As a last resort, and only when your life is in imminent danger, attempt to disrupt and/or incapacitate the active shooter by:

  • Acting as aggressively as possible against him/her
  • Throwing items and improvising weapons
  • Yelling
  • Committing to your actions


When Honolulu Police Department (HPD) Officers Arrive

HPD officers will initially focus on stopping the active shooter as soon as possible. Officers will proceed directly to the area where shots were last heard.

  • Officers will usually arrive in teams of four (4)
  • Officers may wear a regular patrol uniform or external bullet proof vests, Kevlar helmets, and other tactical equipment
  • Officers may be armed with rifles, shotguns, handguns
  • Officers may use pepper spray and tear gas to control the situation
  • Officers may shout commands and may push individuals to the ground for their safety

How to react when law enforcement arrives:

  • Remain calm and follow police instructions
  • Put down any items in your hands (bags, jackets)
  • Immediately raise hands and spread fingers
  • Keep hands visible at all times
  • Avoid making quick movements towards the police such as holding on to them for safety
  • Avoid pointing, screaming/yelling
  • Do not stop to ask police for help or direction when evacuating, just proceed in the direction from which the police are coming

Remember, the first officers to arrive will not stop to help injured persons. Their job is to immediately incapacitate the shooter. Rescue teams comprised of additional police and emergency medical responders will follow the initial officers. The rescue teams will treat and remove any injured persons. They may call upon able bodied individuals to assist with removing the wounded from the premises.

Once you reach a safe location or assembly area, you will likely be instructed to stay in that area until HPD has the situation under control. An accounting of all individuals at the assembly areas must be done to determine if anyone is missing or potentially injured. Witnesses will be identified and questioned. Do not leave until law enforcement authorities have instructed you to do so.

Information to provide when you call 911
  • State there is a shooter and ask for police (the police will coordinate emergency medical services).
  • Location of the active shooter
  • Number of shooters, if more than one
  • Physical description of shooter(s)
  • Number and type of weapons held by the shooter(s)
  • Number of potential victims at the location
  • If you don’t know, say you do not know. Only tell what you know.



Options for Consideration Active Shooter Preparedness (video)

The Department of Homeland Security’s Options for Consideration demonstrates possible actions to take if confronted with an active shooter scenario. The video also shows how to assist authorities once law enforcement enters the scene.

Run. Hide. Fight. Surviving an Active Shooter Event (video)

This video, produced by the Houston Mayor’s Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security, dramatizes an active shooter incident in the workplace. Its purpose is to educate the public on how to respond during such an incident. Warning: The initial sequence in this video may be disturbing.

Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department - Surviving an Active Shooter (video)

This video dramatizes active shooter incidents in a University setting, a public food court setting, and a private workplace setting. This video contains graphic content of a violent nature. Viewer discretion is advised.

Department of Homeland Security – Active Shooter Preparedness

Get more Active Shooter Preparedness information for the Department of Homeland Security here: