GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The shooting in Las Vegas on Sunday night that claimed nearly 60 lives and left hundreds more injured is a reminder of a sad reality.
“Literally, this type of situation could happen anywhere,” Grand Rapids Police Department Sgt. Terry Dixon told 24 Hour News 8 Monday.
That has forced police in West Michigan to prepare accordingly. Departments hold active shooter training, and in 2015, Grand Rapids city commissioners approved the purchase of assault rifles for the police department.
“The city and the police department have taken all the measures we can take in order to prevent that from coming into a city like ours,” Dixon said.
That includes major response plans for when big crowds are downtown, like during ArtPrize. While police can’t share every strategy or tactic they use to ensure safety at big events, they increase their presence and make sure the public knows it.
“It’s extremely important to remain visible to help curb this type of violence,” Dixon said.>>Complete coverage: Deadly Las Vegas shooting
Former U.S. Secret Service agent Jason Russell told 24 Hour News 8 there are things individuals can do in a time of panic.
“It’s about having a plan if something goes wrong,” he said.
Russell now travels the country to improve security for schools, churches and business. Just two months ago, he was staying at the same Las Vegas hotel from which the gunman fired shots into a crowd of concertgoers. Russell was there to lead an active shooter training.
24 Hour News 8 asked him what people could do in a terrifying situation like the one that unfolded Sunday.
“We tell people in a situation where you’re being shot at, you need to look for two things: cover or concealment. Cover is something that will stop a bullet. Concealment is something that will hide you. If you can’t find either of those, you have to get out of the area,” he said.
Russell acknowledged that each attack is different but said his main teaching points remain the same.
“When you’re in venues, look around. Take two seconds to identify a couple exits. Look around to see what’s available for cover and concealment,” Russell said. “At least you’ll have some awareness if things go bad.”
Dixon also said if you see something strange, you should say something. That can go a long way in preventing even the smallest forms of violence.