Police Chief Reflects on Mass Shootings

Joe Ortiz says the South Pasadena Police Department remains engaged with residents, business owners, and faith-based communities to provide them the importance of having situational awareness to reduce the losses to active shooters

PHOTO: Eric Fabbro | SouthPasadenan.com News | SPPD Police Chief Joe Ortiz

Gordon Graham, a professional risk manager with extensive experience as a practicing attorney and in law enforcement, has a powerful message that resonates with Joe Ortiz.

Graham has soared in becoming a leading professional speaker in both private and public sector organizations in risk management.

“Nearly every bad outcome is predictable and thus preventable” are words Ortiz, South Pasadena’s police chief, takes from Graham, especially when the nation is mourning, crying for answers and asking when will it stop?

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PHOTO: Bill Glazier | SouthPasadenan.com News | The American flag at South Pasadena City Hall remains at half-staff following the mass shootings over the weekend in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio

Today, like most, Ortiz is trying to make sense of last weekend’s mass shootings resulting in 22 people losing their life in El Paso, Texas, and another nine killed in Dayton, Ohio. America was still reeling following the July 28 shootings at the Gilroy Garlic Festival, leaving three dead and a dozen injured, when the shock of El Paso and Dayton incidents occurred.

The three mass shootings in the United States have left a combined 34 people dead and many more wounded across the nation in the past week.

“As a law enforcement professional, we all understand survival and perhaps have had to fight for our lives,” explained Ortiz. “The same tragic episode, with mass loss of life, continues to rear its ugly head across the world. The same story repeats itself when one or more deranged gunmen selfishly attack and murder innocent bystanders at a public event, providing no warning what-so-ever.”

Training communities in the face of an active shooter, noted Ortiz, is the best answer to prevent and minimize the loss.

He points to Hank Kula, a retired police sergeant with 26 years in law enforcement, now an author, for professional advice. Kula is a certified crime scene investigator and crash reconstructionist, and instructs recruits in a variety of topics. In addition, he works with veteran police officers in crime scene investigations, latent fingerprint processing and photography.

“Active shooter incidents typically last 10-15 minutes,” explained Kula. “Civilians may be the only aid before first responders get there. Pre-staged medical equipment and trained personnel within a scene have proven effective. Survivability increases with resistance, distraction, and fighting. Survivability decreases by cowering, hiding, and doing nothing.”

Ortiz stressed that the South Pasadena Police Department continues to provide specialized training on how to protect against common vulnerabilities.

“The department remains engaged with our residents, business owners, and faith-based communities to provide them the importance of having situational awareness to reduce the losses to active shooters,” he explained. “With an active shooter situation, remember you can RUN-have an escape route in mind, HIDE-hide in an area out of the shooter’s view, block entry to your hiding place or FIGHT-as a last resort and only when your life is in imminent danger.”