WSU and Pullman Police have plan in the case of active shooting

In the case of a pressing active threat, multiple agencies will respond



The Pullman Police Department made multiple arrests in response to domestic violence calls Monday

ERIN MULLINS, Evergreen reporter

In the case of an active shooting, there is an agreement with other police agencies in place to take action, said Dawn Daniels, assistant chief of WSU Police. 

“We have mutual aid agreements with the City of Pullman. We also have mutual aid agreements with county and state patrol so we can have all of them come,” Daniels said. “We have mutual aid agreements with the City of Moscow, Clarkson, Lewiston, even Spokane.” 

According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been 139 verified mass shootings and 13 verified mass murders in 2023. A mass shooting is defined as when four or more people are shot and/or killed in a single incident while mass murder is when four or more are killed in a single incident. 

Josh Bray, Pullman PD detective, said in the case of an active shooting one should: avoid, deny, defend. Most victims in mass shootings are hiding. If you cannot avoid the threat, deny entry in any way possible, like barricading the door. If the shooter enters the room, defend your life using whatever is in the room. 

In the case of an active shooting, an alert is sent out immediately for officers to respond, she said. While officers deploy immediately, it can take up to 45 minutes for the SWAT team to respond because they are more tactical.

In the case of an active shooting, available officers will “respond extremely quickly” but WSU Police is limited by their number of staff, Daniels said.  As the campus has grown, the department has not grown. Two officers are currently on duty, which is the minimum staffing mandate.

Jake Opgenorth, chief of police for Pullman PD, said the department prepares and trains all the time for any active threat. 

“Unfortunately, school shootings and other violence in the workplace, as we’re seeing nationwide all the time, it just seems to be increasing. So of course, we’re training in case that ever happens in Pullman,” Opgenorth said. 

Last month, the whole department went through scenario-based training on how to respond to an active shooting or active threat, he said. WSU Police partnered with Pullman PD on that training, Daniels said.

The Pullman PD trainers are always paying attention to what is going on nationwide because threats evolve, Opgenorth said.  The frequency of active threat training depends on staffing and budget, but the department tries to do training once a year in varying settings. 

Pullman PD also offers the community self-defense training for an active threat by request, he said. They have done training for the city departments, schools, churches and businesses. 

In the case of a threat, Pullman PD is “absolutely” going to respond, Opgenorth said. 

“I am confident that all of our officers with the Pullman Police Department are fully onboard and do want to respond. We hope that we never have to, but I am confident that if we get that call we are going to respond like the public would expect,” he said. 

Both WSU and Pullman police are equipped with tactical gear so that in the case of an active threat, there is no need to go back to the station, delaying a response. The WSU patrol vehicles have gear like medical equipment, extra ammunition and supplies for collecting evidence or surveying an accident scene, Daniels said. 

The last active shooting situations in Pullman are the officer-involved shooting in December 2022 and the shooting near McGee Park in September 2021, but these are not mass shootings, Daniels said in an email.

Dawn Daniels, assistant chief of WSU Police.

Pullman officers are equipped with their sidearm, duty vest and patrol rifle, Opgenorth said. Ideally, additional equipment is available in every patrol vehicle, which the department is working towards. In the case of an active shooting, the department is going to respond immediately without stopping to get additional gear. 

The time to respond to a threat varies greatly, he said. It depends on the current caseload, but within city limits police should be able to respond in just a few minutes. 

Daniels said how long it takes WSU police to respond depends onwhere they are at. If she is at the station, it may take her a few minutes to respond to a threat but if she is already in the building, she will respond immediately. 

Whether or not a threat warrants an interagency all-call varies greatly depending on the situation, Opgenorth said, because a threat can look like a lot of things. If someone is at a school with a weapon, there will be a heightened response. But if someone is on their computer making threats on social media, there will not be an all-call, although there will still be a response. 

“It’s a case-by-case basis, given the facts of the case and how we respond. We can’t just come up with one protocol for every category because if you’re familiar with our job, every single call is different,” he said. 

Always be aware of your surroundings and pay attention in unfamiliar locations, Opgenorth said. 

“So you go to a restaurant. You go through the front door and you sit down. But have you thought about what is a different way to get out of that restaurant if you need to?” he said. “If you don’t know where the emergency exits are, then you are potentially going to be a victim.”