I am writing to share important safety information in light of recent horrific shootings that have occurred in colleges, high schools, houses of worship, and many other public areas. It is out of an abundance of caution that we share this guidance should you ever find yourself in any unimaginable situations.

Bear in mind that while these horrific events seem to be on the rise, the odds that you will ever be involved in one are slim.  However, if you do find yourself in the middle of a senseless attack the “why” doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is surviving. Your first line of defense, the real first responder, is YOU. Will you be ready to act–what will you do? Remember that the majority of these events are over in fewer than seven minutes, so freezing up is not an option. 

The Department of Public Safety has worked with first responders, so that they could familiarize themselves with the campus in the event that an emergency response is necessary. Members of the Mayor’s Office of Emergency Management, NYPD, FDNY, and EMS held a familiarization drill, as well as a table-top exercise on campus. While these measures and the support provided by these groups are greatly appreciated, these exercises have confirmed that active shooter situations develop quickly and provide little or no warning. Therefore, it is difficult to prepare for them. We will continue to review ways that will make the campus safer including periodic reminders to the community on what to do in the event of an active shooter. 


Quickly determine the most reasonable way to protect your life–run, hide, or fight. Seconds count.   


If there is an accessible escape path, evacuate. Act quickly to put as much distance between yourself and the shooter as possible.

  • Have an escape route and plan in mind
  • Go, regardless of whether others agree to follow
  • Leave your belongings
  • Keep your hands visible and empty
  • Help others escape–if possible
  • Prevent others from entering an area where the active shooter may be
  • Do not attempt to move wounded people
  • Do not attempt to drive your vehicle off campus
  • Call 911 as soon as it is safe to do so


  • If you cannot escape, find a place to hide and barricade yourself
  • Choose a place that is out of view
  • Lock the door and block it with heavy furniture or office equipment
  • Hide behind solid objects away from the door
  • If possible, choose a place that doesn’t trap you or restrict your options to move
  • Turn off lights
  • Silence your phone and keep quiet
  • Call 911 if it’s safe: if you can’t speak, just stay on the line


As a last resort, and if your life is in immediate danger and you cannot flee, attempt to take the shooter down. Your chance of survival is greater if you try to incapacitate the shooter by:

  • Acting as aggressively as possible
  • Throwing items and improvising weapons
  • Yelling
  • Committing to your actions 100%
  • Do not fight fair–if you are not cheating you are not trying hard enough to survive


Law enforcement will act to stop the active shooter as soon as possible. Officers will proceed directly to where the last shots were heard.

  • Officers may be armed with many weapons and may wear tactical equipment
  • Officers may shout commands and push people to the ground for their safety
  • The first officers on the scene will not stop to help injured persons


  • Remain calm and follow instructions
  • Keep hands visible and empty
  • Avoid any quick movements toward officers
  • Do not attempt to stop officers to ask for help
  • Evacuate in the direction from which officers are entering the premises

The Office of Public Safety provides training designed to guide members of our community on how to respond to an active shooter situation. This course is intended to prepare students and employees—non-law enforcement personnel—to react appropriately to such a situation. The desired outcome of the training is to encourage decisive action to any rapidly unfolding, life-threatening situation.

Interested individuals or groups should contact Michael Lederhandler, Chief of Public Safety via email at michael.lederhandler@csi.cuny.edu  to arrange for a presentation.

RUN. HIDE. FIGHT.® Surviving an Active Shooter Event (Video)

By Michael Lederhandler