Active shooter training workshops part of university's emergency preparations

Faculty and staff attended two presentations by retired North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Eric Tellefsen about preparing for an active shooter situation.

As the 2019-20 academic year begins, Elon faculty and staff are learning to take precautions to ensure the community is prepared for possible emergencies. 

On Monday as Planning Week got underway, faculty and staff participated in active shooter training workshops that is just one aspect of the university's emergency preparations. The workshops, taught by retired North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Eric Tellefsen, stressed the importance of not being fearful but understanding that an active shooter incident could happen anywhere at any time. 

"You have to accept the fact that, when you read about something, when you see something has occurred at a Walmart, at a movie theater, at a church, at an office building, at a school, that the very same thing could happen to you," Tellefsen told attendees during the first of two presentations at Turner Theatre. "You could be in the middle of it." 

Tellefsen, a 34-year law enforcement veteran, is an expert in active shooter response strategies. He was tasked by then-Attorney General Roy Cooper with developing the state's current law enforcement and public response programs and authored the state's original Law Enforcement Training Rapid Development lesson plan and instructor training. 

Monday's training workshops focused on the mental and physical preparation necessary to avoid danger in an active shooter situation. The key, Tellefsen said, is to have a plan and calmly implement it if the time comes. 

"We've had enough situations to occur, and lives have been saved because people have done something," Tellefsen said. "They've reacted in an appropriate manner and they've done something that's either stopped the shooter or gotten people away from the situation to help keep them alive."

Tellefsen reminded faculty and staff of the recommendation to "Run, Hide, Fight," in the event of an active shooter situation, as explained in a 2012 YouTube video produced by the Department of Homeland Security and City of Houston. He also urged the audience to take safety into their own hands. 

"I want you to understand the importance of taking personal responsibility," he said. "Because it starts with you. Your safety starts with you. It doesn't begin with the police, the sheriff or any other law enforcement. It begins with you."

This is the second consecutive year Elon Director of Campus Safety and Police Dennis Franks has asked Tellefsen to come to campus to host the workshops.

"I think it's important for all members of the community to be ready and know things can happen, but not to be worried about it," Franks said. "Instead, know where the resources are and how to help those around you."

​Elon University Police regularly participate in training exercises to help ensure they are ready in the event of a campus emergency. During the past six years, the department has participated in three live active shooter training sessions and will attend a large-scale exercise at Alamance Community College in October. Campus Safety and Police offers E-Alerts to inform students, faculty and staff of immediate danger on campus and in the surrounding communities. Community members can also download the LiveSafe app, which provides users two-way communication with Campus Safety and Police. 

When asked about his message to the community as a new academic year begins, Franks said, "We're professional, we're prepared."

Elon Campus Safety and Police is made up of sworn police officers, with full arrest authority, who offer patrol, crime prevention, security and support to all members of the Elon community. The department was accredited by the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators (IACLEA) in 2018. The accreditation documents the university's commitment to campus safety and preparation for threats that might come. 

Elon Campus Safety and Police is open and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. To reach the department by phone, call 336-278-5555, or 9-1-1 in the event of an emergency. For more information, click here.