Here’s How Santa Barbara Police Train the Public to Survive a Shooting

Regular Trainings Provided by Department and Private Companies

Police recently participated in a joint training exercise at the Santa Barbara Airport during which an active shooter situation was simulated.

Santa Barbara City Fire Department

Police recently participated in a joint training exercise at the Santa Barbara Airport during which an active shooter situation was simulated.

As the United States grapples with yet another mass shooting ― this time at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, where 13 people were killed and another 21 wounded Wednesday evening ― law enforcement agencies countrywide are continuing to host active-shooter safety trainings for the public and private businesses.

The Santa Barbara Police Department has provided these training seminars for more than 10 years to schools, churches, hospitals, government offices, and any local organizations that have received specific threats, said Lt. Shawn Hill. Each month, the department gets a number of requests, which have increased over the years, and puts on as many trainings as it can, based on officers’ availability. Otherwise, it recommends private security companies in the area that specialize in active-shooter seminars. “It would be too difficult to meet all the requests,” said Hill.

Last July, the department led a workshop at Center Stage Theater attended by a few dozen business owners, managers, and educators. Downtown Santa Barbara spokesperson Kate Schwab emphasized all offices, no matter how small, should have an active shooter response plan in place. Police presenters stressed Santa Barbara, despite its low crime rates, is not immune to such unpredictable violence. In October, first responders also came together for a joint training exercise at the Santa Barbara Airport.

Hill said the department utilizes a variety of materials created by different law enforcement agencies in its trainings, including from sheriffs' offices, the FBI, and the Department of Homeland Security. “They all offer valuable information,” said Hill. “They are complementary educational tools.” Two training videos they show most often ― one from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office, the other from the ALERRT Center at Texas State University ― are embedded below.

After Wednesday’s shooting, Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean spoke to the Washington Post. He said the Thousand Oaks bar survivors who were familiar with stories of other shooting rampages had scrambled for safety and shelter. “They ran out of back doors, they broke windows, they went through windows, they hid up in the attic, they hid in the bathroom," Dean said. "Unfortunately, our young people … have learned that this may happen. They think about that. Fortunately, it probably saved a lot of lives that they fled the scene so rapidly.”

On its website, Santa Barbara’s Glendon Association offers a number of resources and coping strategies after mass shootings. The Santa Barbara Response Network (SBRN) also offers psychological support. Contact SBRN at (805) 699-5608 or email sbrncommand@gmail.com if you or anyone you know is in need. Call the police department at (805) 897-2300 to inquire about upcoming trainings.