Active Threat Program

While much has been focused on shooting incidents, threats to your physical safety come in many forms. It is an unfortunate reality that we must even consider the possibility. Individuals may be armed with firearms, knives, or personal weapons. Other individuals may verbally threaten violence or be in mental health crisis. The term "Active Threat" is used to describe the threat as immediate and ongoing. These situations evolve quickly and require immediate action on your part.

Pre-planning for such an incident will be your best chance for surviving an active threat/active shooter incident. Know your escape routes, know how you will respond, and prepare yourself to actively fight the attacker as a last resort. Education and training cannot cover every possible situation that might occur, but it is a tool that can help reduce the number or injuries and deaths if put into action as soon as a situation develops. Preparing early so that your react quickly is the most important factor in the optimal management of these types of situations.

In addition to reading the procedures below, you are encouraged to watch this video that presents information on how to respond to an active shooter situation. 

Note: The above video contains violent content to educate and prepare someone to deal with an active aggressor.  Viewer discretion is advised.

Run, Hide, Fight!

In some emergency situations you may have time to stop, deliberate, and decide on the next course of action. That is not always the case though, in stressful situations that pose a risk to your personal safety you may not have the time to think. The ability to react and take decisive action may play a role in whether you emerge from the situation safely. Your chances of making  quick and effective decisions will be greatly increased if you have thought about your options, and prepared yourself to take action before an incident actually occurs. Below we have listed some options as well as some bullet points to help you plan, and prepare for a possible emergency.

Run/Avoid - Can you escape safely?

  • Learn your exits beforehand. Learning where they are and where they go will put you a step ahead if you need to escape.
  • Where will you go once you escape? Distance and cover are your friends, get as far away as you can, and put objects between you and the inicident.
  • Leave your belongings behind.
  • Remeber windows can be good escape options. Do they open? Can you break them?
  • Help others escape, but consider if helping others is going to put you in harms way.
  • * Alert authorities of the situation as soon as you can do so safely.

Hide/Deny - If you can't get out safely! A little pre-planning in this area will go along way.

  • Can you lock the doors?
  • If the doors don't lock, is there a place nearby where you can lock the doors?
  • Which way does the door open?
  • Barrricade the doors. Belt the closer, tie the crash bars, push objects in front of the door.
  • Turn off the lights, pull the shades, silence your phone, move out of sight from the windows. Out of sight, Out of Mind!
  • Remain hidden or barricaded until police arrive or "campus alerts(link here)" notify you that the situation is over "all clear".
  • * Alert authorities of the situation as soon as you can do so safely.

Fight - Only as a last resort!

  • Be physically aggressive.
  • Use improvised weapons.
  • Fight with all-out commitment.
  • Fight to incapacitate the threat.
  • * Alert authorities of the situation as soon as you can do so safely.

* Alert the authorities when its safe to do so.

  • 911 is the easiest number to remember, but 911 does not necessarily connect you to your local police department when dialed from a cell phone.
  • We recommend you keep your local PD's phone number in your cell phone. UMPD's emergency number is 413-545-3111.
  • Be prepared to give your address. If you don't know the address start with "I'm on the UMass Amherst Campus..."
  • Be ready to give the physical description of the suspect, the location, and the type of weapon used.
  • Are there potential victims, how many, extent of injuries.
  • Remain calm, follow instructions, show your hands, don't present yourself as a potential threat to responding officers.

Campus Alerts

  • Everyone should sign up for Campus Alerts in Spire(hyperlink). It's preferred that you sign up for text alerts as they will be the most timely.
  • In most situations you should follow the advice contained within the alerts.
  • Sometimes your location, and the circumstances surrounding the incident, will warrant you to take an action other than what is recommended in the alert. Remember that in situations like these...ultimately it is your safety at stake, do what is necessary to keep yourself safe.
  • Regardless of your choice of action in the emergency, continue making sound decisions based on your situation until you recieve the  "All Clear" message.


We spend a lot of time discussing what to do once the incident occurs. The reality is, once the incident occurs it is too late for everyone invovled. The best resolution to these situations is to try and prevent them from ever happening. In most Active Threat situations there are pre-incident indicators. In most situations a single indicator deos not mean much, but when multiple indicators are present we should be taking notice.

  • Family problems.
  • Marital problems.
  • Work place grievances.
  • Recent death of loved ones.
  • Serious medical prognosis for themsleves or loved ones.
  • Mental health problems.
  • Infatuation with violence/weapons.
  • A lack of remorse for actions.
  • Talks about committing violence.
  • The feeling that no one cares.

If you know someone that is experiencing some of these indicators, or is exhibiting behavior that is out of the ordinary be prepared to act. There are things that you can do to help someone out before they reach a level of desperation and loss of hope that could ultimately lead to an act of violence. Reactions from you can vary from just asking them if they are ok and being a friend, to notifying a boss that you've recognized a problem, all the way to notifying the police that you think violence may be imminent.  The University has created a Crisis Resource Guide to help you recognize potential problems, and help you figure out what to do next. Follow this link to see the document (hyperlink to UMass Crisis Resource guide).

Active Threat Training

UMPD Offers and Active Threat training for any group that may be interested in a more formal training. This training has been presented to thousands of Students, Faculty and Staff. It has become mandatory training for many departments on campus. Program Highlights are as follows:

  • 1 1/2 hours in length.
  • Defines an Active Threat.
  • Learn how to develop a survival mindset.
  • Gain awareness of your options in the event an "Active Threat" does occur.
  • Discuss prevention options.
  • Gain an on-site analysis of your work area.

If you are interested in setting up an Active Threat training, contact Officer Brian Kellogg in the Community Outreach Unit with the information provided on this page.



585 East Pleasant Street
Amherst, MA 01003-9600
413-545-2121 non-emergency
413-545-3111 emergency or 911
413-545-3113 fax


Call 413-577-TIPS (8477) or use our Anonymous Witness Form.