After the Columbine High School massacre in 1999 and the Mumbai attack in 2008, police departments across the United States adopted a new mindset on how to deal with what they call “active shooter” incidents in which people are trapped in restaurants, theaters or other soft targets.
Long gone are the days of establishing a perimeter and waiting for SWAT teams and hostage negotiators to save the day. The new formula for preserving lives calls for ordinary police officers to go on offense and take the attackers’ lives, with an emphasis on speed and force.
It’s an approach reinforced by the recent multipronged attacks in Paris and the hotel siege in Mali. After those attacks, authorities have been hammering home the dangers of responding to mass homicides in progress, even suggesting that hostages should fight for themselves as a last resort.