Border Patrol agents in Arizona are blasting their bosses for telling them, along with all other Department of Homeland Security employees, to run and hide if they encounter an "active shooter."
It's one thing to tell civilian employees to cower under a desk if a gunman starts spraying fire in a confined area, say members of Tucson Local 2544/National Border Patrol Council, but to give armed law enforcement professionals the same advice is downright insulting. The instructions from DHS come in the form of pamphlets and a mandatory computer tutorial.
“We are now taught in an ‘Active Shooter’ course that if we encounter a shooter in a public place we are to ‘run away’ and ‘hide’" union leader Brandon Judd wrote on the website of 3,300-member union local. “If we are cornered by such a shooter we are to (only as a last resort) become ‘aggressive’ and ‘throw things’ at him or her. We are then advised to ‘call law enforcement’ and wait for their arrival (presumably, while more innocent victims are slaughtered)."
The FEMA-administered computer course, entitled “IS-907- Active Shooter: What You Can Do,” is a 45-minute tutorial that provides guidance to all employees on how to recognize indicators of possible workplace violence and what to do should their office be invaded by gunmen and focuses around three main options; either evacuate, hide out, or in dire circumstances, take action.
Main Points of the "Active Shooter" training course
- Evacuate: If there is an accessible escape path, attempt to evacuate the premises.
- Hide out: If evacuation is not possible, find a place to hide where the active shooter is less likely to find
- Take action: As a last resort, and only when your life is in imminent danger, attempt to disrupt and/or
incapacitate the active shooter.
Once the course is completed, employees are urged to download additional materials including a summary booklet and pocket-sized card outlining protocol, which was also handed out to employees two months ago.
One DHS employee told FoxNews.com the instruction cards were handed out to employees six weeks ago. At the time, he assumed they were only for civilian employees, not armed law enforcement officers within the department, which oversees the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
"Requiring BP agents to follow the same steps is egregious,” he said.
DHS officials maintain that the Active Shooter course was designed for all employees—civilian and law-enforcement officers-- and no one should rush into a situation where they, or others around them, could get hurt.
“The Department of Homeland Security takes very seriously its responsibility to protect all of its employees from threats that may surface in the workplace,” U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Michael Friel said in a written statement to FoxNews.com
“CBP workforce training is designed to prepare all employees, including leaders, managers, supervisors, law enforcement personnel and non-law enforcement personnel, to understand their own roles and the roles of their fellow employees in responding to threats. In an active shooter scenario, employees are taught to take actions that keep them alive.”
But members of Local 2544 say they are obligated to protect the public in such a situation, whether they are on duty or not. Given the instructions, some wonder if they would be disciplined for taking down a gunman in a situation like the Fort Hood shooting or the January, 2011 case in Casa Adobes, in which a deranged gunmen shot 19 people, including Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Six people were killed.
“It is always comforting to know that for those of us who carry a weapon when we are off-duty, if we should encounter such a situation, stop a shooter and save countless lives, we can look forward to being disciplined or fired by the Border Patrol because we should have run away to hide and then maybe thrown objects at the deranged killer instead of taking action and stopping him with a firearm,” the union local's website says.
Perry Chiaramonte is a reporter for FoxNews.com. Follow him on Twitter at @perrych