Comparing policy decisions for active shooters using simulation modeling

Adam Michael Kirby, Purdue University


Active shooting violence poses a serious threat to public safety. The outcome is tragic due to the number of casualties and injuries that can occur as well as the lasting emotional devastation it causes on the target population. This study examines the impact of active shooters in schools, small businesses, and large campuses. The goal of an active shooter is to shoot, at random, as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time. The study uses a computer simulation program, called AnyLogic®, to create lifelike schools and workplaces. Using the agent-based simulation model, different policy decisions are tested against one another. Those policy decisions include a default scenario where no safety protocol is in place other than law enforcement response, an armed security guard or resource officer scenario, an employee concealed carry scenario, and an exterior and interior locked door scenario. The study demonstrates how response time has the largest impact of any variable in ensuring the least amount of casualties in an active shooting situation. Response time and number of casualties can be decreased depending upon the policy chosen. The purpose of this study is to allow policy makers to compare the costs and benefits of policies for their respective venues in order to make more informed decisions to save lives.




Dietz, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Law|Criminology|Public policy|Computer science

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