South Brunswick police share training on active shooter situations with the public


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SOUTH BRUNSWICK – Though the goal of educating 5,000 community members on how to prepare for an active shooter situation by the end of the year seems “ambitious,” South Brunswick Police Lt. Gene Rickle said the department is confident it is up for the task.

More than 150 residents packed Crossroads Middle School North on March 12 to learn about the Active Shooter Awareness & Preparedness (ASAP) program that had been announced by the South Brunswick Police Department in February.

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“This program is the result of a series of conversations and meetings with business leaders, houses of worship, and community members over the past year. We took a look at the ongoing efforts within our schools, but realized that 42 percent of all active shooter situations take place in commercial areas,” Police Chief Raymond Hayducka said in a prepared statement at the time.

“We tried to get people thinking about the possibility of encountering an active shooter because if we get them to consider it they are less likely to freeze,” Lt. Gene Rickle said in an interview. “Just beginning the conversation is a helpful first step.”

Rickle, who with fellow department members has gone through active shooter training and delved into the studies of active shooter events, combined his knowledge with a video funded by the Department of Homeland Security to address the history of active shootings, the characteristics of an active shooter, and how people should act if they encounter such a situation.

Rickle said situational awareness is key, watching what is going on around a person. A person must decide his/her appropriate action – run, hide and/or fight – based on “basic human nature of fight-or-flight in the face of danger.” Someone must also contact law enforcement immediately so first responders can begin their action, he said.

“We discussed the options available to everybody in hopes that if they ever face that type of situation, it doesn’t come as such a shock … and they hopefully take actions to keep themselves safe long enough for police to arrive,” Rickle said.

Rickle stated there is no known threat to South Brunswick, but the presentation comes in the face of “the sad fact of life … that people feel [these situations] are increasing in frequency.”

“There is a perception that incidents are on the rise … and we want to keep people safe,” he said.

In addition to the public presentation, South Brunswick police will present the program to any group, business, houses of worship, club or organization at their location or at a training room in the municipal building. About a dozen are already scheduled over the next month, Rickle said. There are no public trainings set at this time.

He also said South Brunswick is not training other police departments, but that members have attended the presentation so as to design a program for their own officers.

“We are always receptive to ideas from our community,” Rickle said. “If they identify a need they think we can help then with … to make them feel better … we are always receptive to that conversation.”

For more information on the program, or to schedule a presentation, email with the subject line “MORE INFO.”

For more information, call the Community Policing Division at 732-329-4000, ext. 7459.

Contact Jennifer Amato at

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