Active Violence Safety Guidelines

An active violence incident is when a person is actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area. These incidents can strike anytime, anywhere, or anyone. Most active violence situations only last 10-15 minutes. This is why it’s critical you act quickly and effectively. Today is the day to decide what you will do if faced with an active violence situation. Where will you exit? Where will you hide if you can’t exit? Are you prepared to fight if there are no other options? Deciding today what your options are will enable you to react quickly and effectively.


Guidance to Faculty, Staff, and Students

In general, how you respond to an active violence incident will be dictated by the specific circumstances of the encounter, bearing in mind there could be more than one offender involved in the same situation. If you find yourself involved in one of these deadly situations, try to remain calm and use these guidelines to help you plan a strategy for survival.

The best course of action when faced with a deadly situation is to get away from the danger. If you can do so safely, evacuate immediately and call 911 to report the incident.

If the incident is occurring near you and you cannot safely escape, secure-in-place in a space nearby. Secure or barricade doors; turn off lights; avoid windows and doors; silence phones; remain quiet; and attempt to note the offender’s actions. Call 911 to report offender location if you are able to do so without alerting the offender.

If the offender enters your hiding location and you are in imminent danger – act aggressively, yell loudly, throw/use objects as weapons to incapacitate the attacker.


Police Officer Response

Police will respond as quickly as possible. Below are suggestions for what to do and what not to do when officers enter the room.

Things to do:

  1. Raise your arms
  2. Spread your fingers
  3. Follow the officers’ commands

Officers may not be able to immediately assist you as you exit the area. The officers’ primary job is to locate the offender and end the threat. Medical assistance will follow once the threat is neutralized.

Things not to do:

  1. Do not point at the police or at the offender
  2. Do not make quick movements toward officers such as attempting to hold on to them for safety
  3. Do not have anything in your hands
  4. Do not pull the fire alarm as a method of initiating an evacuation of the building

Keep in mind responding officers may not initially know who the offender is upon their arrival.


Emergency Messaging Systems

The MSU Police Department encourages faculty, staff, and students to always keep their contact information up to date in the MSU Alert system which distributes emergency messages. To update your MSU Alert contact information, visit

We all play a role in keeping our community safe. If you see anything suspicious, report it immediately by calling 911.


Additional Resources

Classroom Emergency Guidelines:

RUN. HIDE. FIGHT.® Surviving an Active Shooter Event:
Courtesy of the City of Houston Mayor’s Office of Public Safety and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security
YouTube Video

Michigan State University’s Behavioral Threat Assessment Team: