Changing Police Tactics

When thinking about topics for an oral history project I might find interesting, I asked my father, a police officer, about events that had been significant to him within his lifetime. It was then I thought about the Columbine High School school shooting in 1999 because my father had been called in for work and I vividly remember watching it on the news. This school shooting, which occurred in Littleton, Colorado, significantly changed police tactics in response to school shootings and was, in many cases, an entirely new experience for many police officers. I think an interesting oral history project would be to speak with police officers who had been responders during the shooting and explore how police work has changed due to the shooting.

Two Columbine high school students acquired guns and on 20 April 1999, entered the school and fired on both staff and students in the library and cafeteria. Both students then committed suicide. In total, twelve students and one teacher were killed with 21 others injured by gunfire. Because of this attack, police tactics were significantly changed and the Immediate Action Rapid Deployment Tactic created, used in situation with an active shooter. Prior to this, tactics were more geared toward situations for hostages and for containment. Tactics were changed because police had not been prepared for this situation with the typical tactics.

I would like to speak with police officers that were present to see how police work has changed after this shooting. I think a project like this would be significant to oral history because of it caused the creation of an entirely new police tactic and changed how police work is now conducted, especially in respect to schools. This tactic has proved important in many ways at other school shootings making it very significant. Knowing how police work has changed would be very interesting and should be considered in oral history as significant.

Not only is it significant, but it is very relevant to current events today. There is still an ongoing fight for better gun control and school shootings are still a problem today. It also explains why elementary schools have active shooter drills alongside fire drills. An understanding of how police work has changed because of this event is as relevant today as it was in 1999.



One Comment on “Changing Police Tactics”

  1. Graham Smith says:

    A very focused project and I wonder whether it would also be useful to know how the police who attended coped and how it might have changed them. So yes focusing on changes of tactics would be wort while, but probably better traced through other sources. However, combining the human element in here could well throw up something new. (Remember to add a category to blog posts).

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