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Minutes Matter

Minutes Matter: Fast Response to the Scene of Gunfire Improves Safety and Saves Lives 

By: Tommy Blackwell, Director of Security Solutions, ShotSpotter

The slower pace of summertime provides campus law enforcement valuable time to prepare and train for active shooter incidents.  Agencies that recognize the importance of advance preparation typically have the most success in handling these events. With thousands of people returning to campus this fall, law enforcement must be ready to address the threat of an active shooting on or near their campus. 

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) encourages organizations to enhance their preparations for active shooter situations. One of the most important goals for campus security teams is to improve their response time, which in turn helps stop the violence and save lives.  Today, many colleges and universities—often  in coordination with their local city law enforcement—are using innovative technology to help maximize their team’s effectiveness and ensure a rapid and accurate response.  ShotSpotter SecureCampus, for example, is used by dozens of universities to help mitigate gun violence by sending a gunshot alert in just seconds.

Real-time active shooter alerts help responding officers arrive on the scene quickly and safely with critical information such as the number of shots fired, if the shooter is moving, if there is more than one shooter, and in some cases the magazine capacity of the firearm.

 Fresno, California, has had success with ShotSpotter—currently deployed over 14 square miles of the city, including 65 school campuses and the entire Fresno City College campus.  The Fresno Police Department reports that prior to having ShotSpotter the average response time for police officers to arrive at a life-threatening emergency, such as gunshots, was eight minutes. With ShotSpotter’s immediacy and accuracy, that time is now cut in half, to about four minutes.

A recent study by the FBI on active shooters found that active shooters will not stop until they are confronted by law enforcement and the average incident lasts about 12 minutes. The difference between a four-minute response and an eight-minute response becomes critical for saving lives.

An outdoor active gunshot detection system, such as ShotSpotter, functions like a fire alarm system that can be integrated into a comprehensive site-based police-fire-medical response plan.  This significantly increases the rate of active shooter threats identified and accelerates notification to first responders without relying solely on 911 calls.

Your agency’s level of preparedness will determine the outcome of an active shooter event on or near your campus. Having actionable intelligence—knowing it is a verified gunshot at a specific location—allows officers to respond effectively to the most critical event to which a university will be exposed. It’s important for officers to have the certainty that when it’s a call of shots fired, that they have accurate, up-to the-minute intelligence. Their response will be faster, safer, and more effective. Be prepared.  Minutes matter.

For more information on ShotSpotter campus solutions, visit:


OVW Campus Program Training

IACLEA in partnership with the East Central University’s Safety Training and Technical Assistance for Administrators, Boards, and Law Enforcement (STTAABLE) presents the Office on Violence Against Women’s Campus Program Training. These workshops are currently open and are free for all.