Active Shooter/Active Threat

What to do when encountering an Active Shooter/Threat 

An active shooter or active threat is an individual(s) actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area. Assailants may use firearms, knives, or even vehicles. In most cases, there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims.

The information below outlines strategies for prevention, preparedness, and response. These safety tips and guidelines are not all inclusive, but if understood, reviewed periodically, and trained when feasible, they can increase your chances of surviving.


In an active shooter  / active threat situation, your first notification may be from the event itself. Alert others in your area of the danger. Call 911 or CPSO (503-725-5911).

An emergency notification will also be issued through PSU Alert. All emails are automatically included in the PSU Alert system, but you must register to get text messages or phone calls. PSU encourages all students, faculty and staff to sign up for the PSU Alert Notification System by logging into Banweb.


Since every incident varies, you should be flexible in determining which strategy works best in that specific situation. You must determine your best course of action. This should be based on your knowledge and assessment of the circumstances (e.g., proximity to the event, actions of the shooter, available escape options and your individual capacity).

Run or Evacuate

  • Have an escape route planned
  • Leave your belongings behind.
  • Move rapidly and deliberately, utilizing chairs, desks, and other objects to conceal your movement and provide protection if necessary until you reach a safe place.
  • Depending on location, consider exiting through windows. Have someone watch the door as you get as many out the windows (ground floor) as calmly and quietly as possible.

Hide or Barricade

  • If possible, lock the door. If the door has no lock and the door opens in, use heavy furniture or other items to barricade the door
  • If possible, darken the room
  • Be low and silent, including putting cell phones on quiet or vibrate


  • Act aggressively and attempt to incapacitate the assailant
  • Find something to use as a weapon (chair, fire extinguisher, etc)

When the Police Arrive

  • Remain calm and follow officers’ instructions
  • Put down any items in your hands (i.e., bags, jackets)
  • Immediately raise hands and spread fingers
  • Keep hands visible at all times
  • Avoid quick movements toward officers such as attempting to hold on to them for safety
  • Avoid pointing, screaming or yelling
  • Do not stop to ask officers for help or direction when evacuating

Always notify the police department as soon as it is safe to do so. Call 911 or CPSO 24-Hour Emergency number 503-725-5911


Research into active shooter events in the last 30 years show that a shooters path to violence often involves pre-attack behaviors and indicators. The use of a multi-disciplinary threat assessment and management team can interrupt this path. At Portland State University the CARE team provides this function and is connected to both the regional and statewide threat assessment teams. If you are concerned about a student or community member, share your concerns with Campus Public Safety or the CARE team.


The CARE team includes professionals from Student Life, Student Health and Counseling Center, Housing, Campus Public Safety Office and others who assist students in crisis. As a faculty and staff member, you are able to help connect students to support services. Examples include students who behave in an aggressive or out-of-control way or talk about hurting someone or themselves. The CARE team focuses on prevention and intervention and is always available to respond.



Contact CPSO at 503-725-4407 to schedule a training session.

PSU Alert Emergency Notification System

The PSU Alert emergency notification system enables the University to contact the PSU community in the event of an emergency by sending information via your preferred method of communication (phone, text, or email).

All email addresses are automatically subscribed to the PSU Alert system, but you must register to get text messages or phone calls. PSU encourages all students, faculty and staff to sign up for the PSU Alert Notification System by logging into Banweb.