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Former Utah police chief shares insight into active shooter response

People are led out of a King Soopers grocery store after a shooting in the store, Monday, March 22, 2021, in Boulder, Colo. (Hart Van Denburg/Colorado Public Radio via AP)

SALT LAKE CITY — A former Utah police chief is sharing his insight on the response to active shooter situations, following a mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado. 

10 people died, including a police officer.

Active shooter response continues to change

Chris Bertram spent 25 years in police service, the last seven as chief of police for the city of Holladay.

He says an active shooter situation is incredibly difficult for an officer to navigate, especially considering that they are often forced to engage in a response before a SWAT team and equipment can arrive.

“A specialized SWAT team in an urban area can probably respond and be geared up and have the proper equipment and tactically get into position in maybe 25 to 30 minutes on a good day,” he told KSL NewsRadio. “It could be as much as an hour to get that team in place. That’s more realistic.”

Former police chief: Officers must act quickly

According to Bertram, standard procedures for active shooter response have shifted in the last 15 to 20 years. In previous times, most departments directed officers to wait for SWAT personnel. However, more recently, officers will work together and engage as soon as possible.

“The expectation in the last 22 years is that if you have an active shooter, police are going to get there and the first two or four officers are going to get together and go in,” he said. “And the next two to four officers are going to get together and go in.”

Additionally, it’s the responsibility of the responding officers to work together even if they are coming from various police agencies. During his time in policing, Bertram says he witnessed similar situations play out in the Salt Lake Valley.

“What has changed, or evolved, is how we respond to [active shootings] better,” Bertram said.

Authorities in Boulder have announced that the shooting suspect is getting medical treatment and there is no further threat to the public.