Safety Policies

SY41 Active Shooter Policy

Policy Status: 


Policy Steward: 

Assistant Vice-President for Police and Public Safety / Director of Environmental Health and Safety



To outline the University’s policy regarding planning, training and response to an Active Shooter threat.


The threat and reality of dealing with an Active Shooter both on and off campus continues to be a hazard for our society. These threats, by necessity, require the immediate action of procedures to ensure the safety of our University community.


This policy applies to all University locations. It is the responsibility of all University locations to be aware of training standards and roles of individual units listed in this policy.


Active Shooter - One or more subjects who participate in a random or systematic shooting rampage, demonstrating their intent to harm or kill others.


Penn State University Police and Public Safety

  • Responding to and investigating the initial active shooter event.
  • Coordinating and working with outside law enforcement agencies in the response and investigative phase of the active shooter event.
  • Will put out the first PSU ALERT message to the University community, advising of situation and asking them to avoid area.

Penn State Office of Emergency Management

  • Coordinates efforts to assist University Emergency Responders and staff during an Active Shooter Incident.
  • Operates the Emergency Operations Center if needed.

Emergency Management Group

  • Staff the Emergency Operations Center and support the response effort during an Active Shooter situation.
  • Provide policy and financial guidance during an Active Shooter incident.

Office of Student Affairs

  • Respond to student needs and facilitate advocacy efforts when appropriate.
  • Act as a liaison with concerned family members during and post the emergency.

Office of Human Resources

  • Determine employee(s) campus involvement.
  • Conduct outreach to employees.

University Relations/Public Information

  • Published subsequent PSU ALERT messages for University community. These messages also are captured on social media platforms operated by University Relations.
  • Provides factual, ongoing information about the situation and important advisories on actions being taken by University officials, as well as expected actions to be taken by University community members.
  • Acts as liaison to leadership in EMG in providing critical information updates to community, general public and media.
  • Contact liaison to the media.
  • Organizes press briefings and media updates.


Anyone at Penn State University who witnesses an act of violence on University Property should immediately report it to the University Police and Public Safety or local law enforcement agency by dialing 911 or a local telephone number for locations with their own police agency.

Specific response procedures for Penn State University Police and other public safety entities are proprietary and for official use only.

During such an emergency, the Assistant Vice President for Police and Public Safety or his/her designee, shall be immediately notified. The Assistant Vice President for Police and Public Safety shall notify the Senior Vice President for Finance and Business, or their designee.

The Assistant Vice President for Police and Public Safety or designee will also immediately notify University Relations/Public Information so that factual information can begin to be disseminated.

With the advent of social media and its ability to push out information faster than University personnel can react, it is imperative that official information from the University begin to flow outward as quickly as possible to attempt to stop any rumors or misinformation from spreading.

Notification to the Campus Community will be made by various forms of notification, to include the PSU ALERT system, e-mail, social media, web sites, fire alarms and personnel notifications.


The Penn State University Police at University Park, train annually for response to Active Shooter situations. The University Police also train with other local law enforcement agencies on a coordinated response to this type of an incident.

At campus locations, the Chief of Police, Director of Business Services or law enforcement/security manager will arrange and coordinate Active Shooter response training.


Guidance on how to respond to an Active Shooter situation for Faculty, Students and Staff can be obtained through the StaySAFE: Surviving an Active Shooter Program, presented by the University Police. The StaySAFE: Surviving an Active Shooter Program provides information on the steps you can take to mitigate the actions of an Active Shooter.

The StaySAFE: Surviving an Active Shooter Program includes the following steps to protect yourself if an active shooter is in your vicinity:

  • Search for an exit: Do what you can to get to a safe place. Leave the area in the opposite direction from any shooter.
  • Alert the authorities: Call or text 911. Give as many details about what you saw or heard and your current location. Do not assume that someone else has called – you may have new information for the police.
  • Find a place to hide: If you cannot leave, turn out the lights of the room you are in, lock or barricade the door and hide until help arrives. Avoid hallways, turn your cell phone on silent, and remain as quiet as possible.
  • End the threat: This is a last resort when you have no other option, this is the life or death situation. Attempt to take out the shooter however you can. If you choose this option, DO NOT hesitate and be decisive.

Additional information on general police response and how you should react are included in the program. Information on this and other educational programs are available at the University Police and Public Safety department website under "Community Education." The StaySAFE: Surviving an Active Shooter Program is available online with PSU ID web access at


For questions, additional detail, or to request changes to this policy, please contact University Police & Public Safety.


Other Policies in this manual should also be referenced, especially the following:

SY03 - Emergencies Involving Students

SY05 - Persons, Other Than Students or Employees, Who Are Injured or Become Ill on University Property

SY12 - Weapons, Fireworks, and Paintball Devices

Effective Date: October 12, 2015
Date Approved: October 5, 2015
Date Published: October 12, 2015

Most recent changes:

  • October 12, 2015 - Changes to the EDUCATION FOR FACULTY, STAFF AND STUDENTS section, updated to reflect current operations, migrating from the 5 Outs model to StaySAFE.

Revision History (and effective dates):

  • June 19, 2014 - Editorial changes to the policy, updated to reflect current operations. Addition of policy steward information, in the event that there are questions or requests for changes to the policy. References to the "PSUTXT" changed to "PSU ALERT."
  • October 29, 2012 - New policy.