Foothill-De Anza police teach students to ‘Run, hide, defend’

Run, hide, defend. This was the message Foothill-De Anza police officer James Thurber taught students at an active assailant class held on Tuesday, Oct. 17 in conference rooms A and B.

Thurber presented key skills and tips for dealing with threats on campus and other crowded places.

His presentation consisted of a short film illustrating the three concepts, and examples of what to do in each situation.

“The campus has been teaching ‘Run, Hide, Defend’ for several years now,” Thurber said. “It’s part of a program that Santa Clara County chiefs of police developed to teach K-12 kids, just brought into the college environment.”

While gunmen are commonly thought of when it comes to active assailants, Thurber stressed the importance of taking into account other threats, especially when off campus.

“We want you to be able to apply these skills to shopping, [the] supermarket, airport, with friends, walking through a parking lot, and show that it’s applicable to their everyday life,” Thurber said.

Run refers to leaving the area safely when threatened with danger, as well as helping others to safety.

Hide is the act of locking down in a room, barricading the doors and staying inside until the area is cleared by law enforcement.

Defending is the last option, where students prepare to subdue the assailant if necessary.

While the effectiveness can’t be formally measured, Thurber says that he’s gotten feedback from students who tell him they feel more aware of their options.

He also stresses the importance of making training like this mandatory for students.

“I think that schools should actually require attendance for ‘Run, Hide, Defend,’” Thurber said. “An easy way to do that would be during orientation before the semester or quarter. I can speak generally from law enforcement, we would love to see this as a requirement.”

Hongjin Wu, 28, business major, decided to come to the class because of the Las Vegas shootings.

Originally from China, Wu had no prior experience with the threat of gun violence.

“When something happens, I’ll know how to respond,” Wu said. “We were worried about this thing [shootings], that’s why we came here.”

Ruyao Wang, 28, computer science major, says that she hopes that there is an opportunity to actually practice the concepts discussed in “Run, Hide, Defend.”

“It’s all about knowledge,” Wang said. “We don’t have the real opportunity to practice.”

While there is no formal training for active assailants, students can subdue threats before they happen by reporting suspicious activity, a concept called “see something, say something.”

To illustrate this point, Thurber used the the example of Al Johnson Deguzman, a former De Anza student that plotted to bomb and shoot students on campus in January of 2001.

“People just really need to be aware that their safety starts with them,” Thurber said. “And I will reiterate ‘see something, say something.’ Don’t be afraid to say something. If you as an adult know something is wrong, you need to tell somebody.”