Although Buffalo's City Hall has implemented a number of additional security measures recently, Common Council President Darius Pridgen says his colleagues do not currently hold active shooter drills. He wants to change that.
In light of Sunday's fatal shooting at a Texas church, Pridgen says he will be meeting with Buffalo's Deputy Police Commissioner and other specialists on Thursday to set an active shooter protocol that can be discussed with the rest of the Common Council next week.
"It disturbs me regardless of whether it's in a church, like I said, a bike path, a school, a movie theater. It just doesn't matter where it occurs," Pridgen says. "What matters to me most is that we are doing the most we possibly can to help people to protect themselves, know protocols and have these conversations."
Active shooter drills are now common in schools, malls and other gathering places. Pridgen says all large meeting groups should take precautions in this "new day."
"I believe that safety, vigilance and training is not just a direction we need to talk about, but the age that we're in right now," he says, "and every responsible organization or group that have people that meet together in any mass amounts of numbers, they need to do something to prepare for the worst."
Pridgen says he even made immediate changes at his True Bethel Church, where he is pastor.
"For instance, I have already made a decision that whether the church is being used by another group, every Sunday morning we have a morning announcement reminding people where exits are," Pridgen says. "It's just usually taken for granted that we know."
He also invited Buffalo SWAT and other law enforcement to his Ellicott District stakeholders meeting Monday night.
"They really gave three simple words - and in this order - when there is an active shooter situation and that is, number 1, Run, Hide and then the last one, Fight if you have to and then gave some tips on that," Pridgen says."You know, I'll be very honest. I thought it was Hide first.
Pridgen says continuing the conversation is key to saving lives. He hopes "Run, Hide and Fight" during an active shooter incident will become as common as the "Stop, Drop and Roll" that has become part of our culture during a fire.
"It is very unfortunate that in churches, mosques, community centers that we have to be as vigilant now - on bike paths, I mean, you name it. I don't think there is any area where we should not be vigilant and let our guard down," he says. "But at the same time, I think that if we are prepared and these folks who do these horrible, heinous crimes know that people are really preparing themselves and that they could lose their lives also, I think it brings some comfort to people who are gathering in places and hopefully bring some trepidation to those who would like to harm others."