Ex Cop tells students their options when faced with an Active Shooter or Disaster


Screenshot 2014-05-16 05.01.24


Home » News » Retired officer highlights options for violent encounters

Thursday, May, 15, 2014 – 2:02:08 PM
Retired officer highlights options for violent encounters
By Melissa Murray
Kitchener Post staff
According to Gary Askin, a retired Waterloo Regional Police Service investigator, every kid needs to be a stakeholder in their own safety.
And it’s a message he is trying to spread. (see video here)
Last Thursday, Askin presented a workshop to a group of Specialist High School Major Program students at Conestoga College about emergency preparedness and what they should do if they are confronted with a violent encounter.
It was just recently that Askin realized students are taught only one thing if there is a lockdown — hide, lock the door and turn off the lights.
“It’s kind of an outdated policing perspective, but it only looks good on paper,” he said.
But people have options, whether that’s in a school setting or in an office.
Askin promotes three different options for people faced with a violent encounter, like an active shooting: run, hide or act.

It’s a method unlike what he said is currently being taught in schools and is based on FBI and Homeland Security training.
“We’ve got to change the model. Frequently, the best option is to get safely away,” he said.
“I’m not sure why that option was never given to kids.”
Askin said some training could have saved the students in the South Korean ferry disaster last month.
Many who died listened to the ship’s captain and remained on the ferry until it sank, while others saw help on its way and opted to jump into the water.
“It is so sad to see other kids wait for help that didn’t come,” he said.
After working with WRPS for more than 30 years, Askin said emergency preparedness is something he is passionate about and is really needed. His workshop also covers what to do in the event of a fire, flood, earthquakes and other disasters, but much of the focus is on violent encounters.
“The chances are you are more likely to be injured in a violent encounter than a fire,” he said.
But when it comes to acting, he said that doesn’t necessarily mean a fight.
“It could mean throwing a stapler. You do what you have to,” he said.
Askin is hoping to spread his message through local high schools and also in area workplaces.
“Kids are entitled to know their options and have to fight for their lives. I know it’s scary, but the alternative is worse.”
“If a shooter lines students up and starts firing and your kid is number five, fighting for their life might be their only option . . . giving up should not be an option,” he said.
Since 2011, Conestoga College has brought in more than 1,500 students for workshops like Askin’s, according to Mike Diamond, manager of corporate training at the college.
A variety of workshops, including safe food handling, basic boating and smart serve courses have been offered previously.
That assortment is what engages students.
“The variety means they will strike a cord with somebody,” he said.
And Askin hopes something from his presentation will help the 16 students as they finish high school.
“I hope when they leave they have the confidence to make good decisions. Now they should know what to do to survive.”

see http://www.iiso.ca

Investigative Intelligence Solutions Ontario -iiso.ca

Training students and workers on what their options are when faced with a violent encounter makes good sense. iiso offers a 3 hour workshop that teaches you when to run, hide or act. These are life saving strategies that haven’t been taught to most Canadians. Everyone must be a stakeholder in their own safety. We owe it to our kids and employees.

Lesson Learned


By Gary J.  Askin

I got lost last weekend in Michigan. I’m over fifty now so getting lost trying to find a hockey rink around Detroit, isn’t surprising.  While searching for it, I ended up passing Romulus High School.

On their front lawn I noticed a massive wave of bright yellow flags stuck in the ground on the school property. There were hundreds or maybe even thousands of them waving in the wind, demanding attention.

They covered the property and even at a distance were impossible to miss.Image

“Check this out” I said having no clue what the occasion was.

As I slowed I read a banner amidst the yellow flags that said in large letters


The realization of this message hit me like a truck and I immediately felt the power this image intended to convey. This was no celebration.

I assumed that each flag represented a victim of bullying. I later discovered it was worse than that. I felt an immediate rush of sadness and empathy for those who have suffered at the hands of  bullies .

I circled around to get a closer look.

“By the time you read this another student will be bullied” the sign read.

It further explained that over 2 million students are bullied every year in America. The last line shocked me even more. That each flag represented

“ just under 3000 children”.


The flags were too numerous to count. The fact that each one represented 3000  child victims really struck me as to how pervasive and prevalent, bullying is.

As a police officer, I have spent much of my career fighting for victims, investigating those who hurt, harass and exploit. Yet now, I wished I could have done more. This was an image of thousands of children asking for help. I felt ashamed that we as adults couldn’t do more to protect our youth from this type of abuse.Later that day, I did some checking and found the Romulus High School web site that explained the program. I learned that bullying is still a growing epidemic and that each day 160,000 students skip school because they don’t feel safe.

Much has been written on bullying in today’s social media era. Rick Mercer once ranted that adults frequently treat Anti Bullying Week like National Nutrition Week and just ignore it. It’s bad enough that kids feel the wrath of their tormentors for eight hours at school but now come home for even more late night social media abuse. As Mercer says

“the greatest thing about being an adult is that no matter how bad things get, you never have to  back to Grade 9 ever again”

I hope this campaign develops some social media traction as this message speaks volumes without the  “in your face” “shock and awe” delivery that accompany many similar campaigns.

Waterloo Region has seen its share of anti bullying campaigns.  Finding one that continually resonates with the public is always a challenge. Finding one that our kids don’t think is lame is even tougher.


The Romulus High School web site also offered great tips for bullies and the bullied.

They also offer a pledge, which the signor agrees to

1) Stop being part of the problem

2) Stand up to people that are making others feel uncomfortable

3) Support people that may be a victim of bullying.

Madison Small, Jawann Gaskin and organizers from Romulus High School should be proud of their efforts and know that they are making a difference. Without question they accomplished what they set out to do; create awareness about bullying.

Their simple, direct message contained within such a powerful visual image caused me to explore the topic, visit their school web site and write this article -which I hope creates even more awareness.

I got lost last weekend in Michigan but I found Romulus High School. I also found a school committed to making systemic change to a world wide problem.

With just a quick glance this campaign took me back to grade nine, reminded me how widespread bullying is and encouraged me to take action.

Thanks Romulus.

Ps. November 17-23’rd is bullying awareness week in Canada. (Don’t treat it like Nutrition Week)