CSUPD chief publishes open letter with active threat advice

Stuart Smith

Figure out an escape plan from campus, says Colorado State University Chief of Police Scott Harris.

Harris released an open letter to the campus community Monday asking them to create their own plans for escape in case of active threats on campus. 


csu Police department
CSUPD provides services on campus like SafeWalk, bike safety enforcement and ride along programs. (Brooke Buchan | Collegian)

“While none of us want to think that this could happen to us, here on campus or anywhere, we must face that possibility,” Harris wrote. “I’m writing today to ask you to make a plan.”

Harris’ advice: run, hide or fight. Running away is the best choice, if possible, he wrote, adding that campus community should have an escape route in mind.

He recommends thinking about where you would go from your classes or office if an incident occurred. If you can, take your cell phone, but leave non-essential belongings behind as long as you don’t risk your life. Keep running until you are far from the threat and in a safe place, Harris wrote.

Crisis Tips from Chief Harris:

Have an escape route in mind.

Leave your belongings behind.

Keep running until you are far away from the threat and are in a safe place.

Once you are safe, call 911. In Larimer County, you also can send a text to 911.

Try to give as much information as you have to assist first responders. Keep your hands visible if police are already responding. They need to see you don’t have a weapon.

If you can’t run, Harris recommended hiding in an area away from the threat, like under a desk, behind a bush or in a closet.

If neither of those are viable options, be prepared to fight as a last resort if your life is in imminent danger, Harris wrote.

“Try to incapacitate the threat,” the Chief wrote. “You must be prepared to fight for your life.” 

Finally, Harris wrote that people should be mentally prepared with these options to choose the best one in a situation.

“One of the harshest realities is that active threats are over within minutes, long before police have a chance to fully understand what or who the threat is, where it is, and what is happening,” Harris wrote.

Finally, the best way to stop an active threat is through prevention.

“You are the best prevention to an active threat, when you are engaged in reporting as soon as possible things that do not seem right or are of a concern,” Harris wrote.


Stuart Smith can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @stuartsmithnews