Active Shooter Safety Guidelines

Since the tragic events at Virginia Tech, Northern Illinois, Aurora Colorado, and Newtown Connecticut, many students, faculty, and staff have asked the Harvard University Police Department what they should do in the event of an "active shooter" incident on campus. Even though active shooters on college and university campuses are extremely rare, the HUPD understands that these incidents invoke a lot of fear and are anxiety provoking. In the spring of 2013 the HUPD began providing training to community members on how to respond to an active shooter on campus.

Because most incidents are over within minutes, students, faculty, and staff must be prepared to deal with the situation until first responders arrive. These situations are unpredictable. However, there are a few steps that can be taken immediately to protect oneself. As these situations evolve quickly, quick decisions could mean the difference between life and death. If you are in harm's way, you will need to decide rapidly what the safest course of action is based on the scenario that is unfolding before you.


In an active shooter situation, you should quickly determine the most reasonable way to protect your own life. You should:

  1. Run: If there is an accessible escape path, attempt to evacuate the premises.
  2. Hide: If evacuation is not possible, find a place to hide where an active shooter is less likely to find you.
  3. Fight: As a last resort, and only when your life is in imminent danger, attempt to disrupt and/or incapacitate an active shooter.

To access the Harvard University Police Department's Active Shooter Safety Guidelines please click on the image below.

To see “run, hide, fight” in action please view the Ready Houston's "Run. Hide. Fight. Surviving an Active Shooter Event" training video.

If you are interested in arranging a presentation on the Harvard University Police Department's Active Shooter Safety Guidelines please contact Steven G. Catalano, the Special Advisor to the Chief of Police, at 617-495-9225 or by email at to arrange it.