A former police officer in Clinton Township for over 25 years, Marc Strauss is now a senior risk control consultant who instructed 30 West New York employees on how to respond if ever there was an active shooter on site at Town Hall.
During the training, Strauss played videos on a projector of people who survived mass shooting events such as the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007 and the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012.
A teacher from Sandy Hook described what she told the children in her classroom when the shooter, Adam Lanza, was walking along the corridor, which proved to generate strong emotions and reactions among some of the West New York employees.
Patricia Silva, who works in the buildings department, was visibly upset while listening to the account, and in response to a question on how the account resonated with her, she was only able to nod her head in the affirmative.
Strauss recognized that the footage would indeed create some discomfit, but that the purpose of the training was to make the message clear to the employees the actions they would need to take to protect themselves and to save lives if ever they had to confront a dangerous situation.
“It is emotional because it is unfortunately a real life scenario that we’re talking about, not some hypothetical situation … so it does become emotional and you see the reactions from some of the folks getting upset as they listen to victims and survivors. But you want to make sure that you’re delivering the right message,” Strauss explained.
“It’s a good feeling for me, after a career in law enforcement, it’s nice to being able to bring this instruction to others and let them benefit from it.”
Today’s training is one of three one-hour sessions that Strauss will be conducting with the township’s employees that will include instruction on what measures to take if an active shooter event occurred.
For example, he advised against playing dead to avoid injury since, statistically, that is one of the least effective acts to deter an active shooter.
He brought the lesson home to the employees by pointing out that if the door to the courtroom was the only way out if an active shooter appeared, they would have to fight for their lives, he stated bluntly.
Today’s instruction was based on a nationally recognized program ALERT, or Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Training Response Program, and was made possible through a public Joint Insurance Fund.
Strauss added that more municipalities are requesting similar types of training, given the unremitting reality of mass shootings.