Two weeks after launching the D.C. Nightlife Task Force with the goal of preventing gun violence in the city’s entertainment venues, Mayor Muriel Bowser’s office is preparing nightlife and culture for the unthinkable: an active shooter situation.
The D.C. Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency, the Metropolitan Police Department, and D.C. Fire and EMS presented a training session at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Public Library in Northwest D.C. on Thursday.
Much of the focus was on empowerment and preparedness.
“When you give people options on what they can do and what to be on the lookout for, it does empower them and creates a sense of community so we’re all acting in concert,” said D.C. Assistant Police Chief Morgan Kane.
The event was co-hosted by the Mayor’s Office of Nightlife and Culture. Director Solana Vander Nat said there’s been a surge in nightlife activity in D.C.’s entertainment corridors since the end of the pandemic.
At the same time, according to the latest crime data from D.C. police, homicides are up 14% compared to this date last year, and violent crime overall is up 7%, heightening the need for more safety initiatives.
“D.C. is open, and we want all of our residents, visitors and business operators to feel safe,” said Vander Nat.
All eight Wards in D.C. were represented at the training session, where Senior Officer Dorian DeSantis stressed preparation — including emergency training exercises, designating safe shelter areas, establishing safe evacuation protocols and recognizing the signs that an individual may be considering extreme violence.
D.C. EMS Capt. Charles Steptoe provided training on giving emergency first aid to a shooting victim, such as proper use of a tourniquet and how to pack a gunshot wound to help the victim stay alive until first responders arrive.
Earlier in the day, the Mayor’s Office of Religious Affairs co-hosted a similar event for D.C.’s faith community, because worship and nightlife venues are both frequent targets of active shooter threats.
“For anyone that requests this training, email (contact@HSEMA.dc.gov), and we can facilitate it,” said Christopher Rodriguez, director of the city’s homeland security and emergency management department
The D.C. government website also has information on how to request an active-shooter training session, as well as tips for preparing the workplace, school or home for an active shooter situation.
Additional resources for active-shooter preparedness can be found on the federal government’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency website.
Alexis Squire, director of the Mayor’s Office on Volunteerism and Partnerships, said community members are encouraged to learn more about how they can be involved and more prepared.
“The goal is to give [them] all the information needed to take action when the time arises and be part of the solution,” said Squire.