Town hall meetings held by the police department in Douglasville, Ga., usually get only a handful of attendees, but the room was packed for a session called, “Active Shooter: A Citizen's Guide to Planning for Survival,” the New York Times reports. Chief Gary Sparks, an Army veteran with 29 years on the police force, told the crowd that the world has changed and that they should Google the floor plans of stadiums and concert sites before going to them. Study the layout of grocery stores. Note places to make a quick exit or to hide. And be ready to pounce, if you must, with maximum aggression.
“You can't go out here and not have a mind-set to win the fight,” Sparks said. “Can't go around here with no sheepish-type mind-set. There ain't no sheep dogs. Everybody in Douglasville, we tigers, lions, bears, elephants, whatever you want to be.” This kind of continuing education class is an increasingly common ritual in a firearm-saturated nation where many feel particularly vulnerable after the murderous Islamic State assaults in Paris, the bloody attack on a Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic two weeks later and the massacre of San Bernardino, Ca., county employees last month. Over 90 minutes, the Douglasville police encouraged attendees to adopt a view of the world that was, in essence, the default view of police officers: Keep your head on a swivel. Constantly triage potential threats. Incessantly toggle through angles of escape and plans of attack.