As Officer Radd Rotello stood before an audience inside the Frisco City Council Chambers last week, he showed them an animated map to illustrate the growing number of active attacks in the country from 2000 to 2018.
Each incident was represented by a dot that would pop up, followed by another, followed by another for a full minute.
The map was part of the Frisco Police Department’s first community-wide presentation about active threats.
Why have the presentation now?
Until the dots reached 316 it seemed like the dots would never stop popping up.
“This is not something that’s just happening every once in a while,” Rotello said. “This is everywhere.”
The presentation was intended to teach several things, including the importance of being prepared.
Rotello said while an attack hasn’t happened in Frisco it would be a mistake to think it couldn’t happen. He referenced the foiled shooting plot at Stonebriar Centre in 2018 and the mass shooting inside a Plano home in 2017 that killed eight people.
Rotello said there is a perception in Frisco that nothing bad can happen.
“That’s a mentality that I hate to see,” Rotello said.
Rotello said out of the 316 attacks, nearly half of them ended before police arrived. According to the FBI, the average police response time is approximately three minutes, but 70 percent of mass shootings end in less than five minutes.
Rotello said the presentation isn’t meant to encourage residents to be heroes but rather how to protect themselves.
“If you take certain steps and prepare you can prevent yourself from being a victim,” Rotello said.
Rotello’s presentation included references to several active threat incidents over the years, including the mass shootings at Columbine High School and Virginia Tech.
He used instructional videos throughout to bring home several points, including what to watch for.
Rotello said “see something, say something” is key in preparation. He said while there is no standard profile for an attacker, there are signs to watch for – threats in the workplace, online support of terrorism and concerning social media postings.
Other signs include someone showing violent interests, discipline history or being bullied. He said social stressors, such as parent divorce or a breakup, is another sign.
“Fifty percent of them, they had something happen in their life within two days of that attack,” Rotello said, citing a recent U.S. Secret Service study of school shootings from 2008 to 2017.
Discussion also included survival mindset – awareness, preparation and rehearsal, as well as the three stages of disaster response – denial, deliberation and decisive moment.
He said too often in an emergency situation people try to rationalize what’s going on instead of leaving, and during the deliberation stage, or fight or flight, people freeze instead.
“If you do enough training and think about it beforehand, your default might be something that saves your life,” Rotello said.
Rotello also went over the ways to respond – run, hide and as a last resort, fight.
Once the incident is over, Rotello said there are things people should know to do, even licensed gun carriers, once police arrive to a scene.
Rotello said last week’s presentation was the first of several the police department plans to do. FDP is finalizing an event for the end of February that will be open to all faith-based organizations.
There will also be a similar community-wide discussion after spring break, Rotello said.
Residents who attended Thursday’s event said it was informative.
“I thought it was thorough and gave you an idea of what you need to think about situationally,” said resident Holli Costanza. “It gave us resources and tools to think about ahead of time so we can be prepared for a possible situation.”
Rotello said the department plans to have a course for churches later.
“What you do does make a difference,” Rotello said. “Doing nothing could be deadly. Have a plan. Refuse to be a victim. Go over it with your family. What you do absolutely matters.”