NJ Librarians Receive Active Shooter Training

Based on requests from library staff across the state, the New Jersey State Library presented three active shooter training classes in July. Camelot Security Associates, a firm comprised primarily of former New Jersey State Police, conducted these classes. Instructors Edward M. O’Neil and Robert Wilk covered preparedness, evaluating your library’s strengths and weaknesses and how to draft an active shooter plan. The training on how to respond is important, said O’Neil, because “these incidents are over before law enforcement can arrive.”

Edward O’Neil presentation to librarians at Monmouth County Library, Manalapan

He pointed out that because libraries are some of the most welcoming places with little or no security, they are a soft target. After reviewing a number of active shooter instances, Kathleen Moeller-Peiffer, deputy director of Library Support Services for the NJ State Library, described an active shooter situation she faced as State Librarian of New Mexico on Aug. 28, 2017, where two were killed and four injured.

An active shooter scenario “can happen anywhere, anytime,” said Wilk. “Don’t think it can’t happen to you. You can’t wait for something to happen to start planning how to protect yourself and those around you.” Surprisingly, not many of the librarians in attendance indicated their library had an evacuation plan in the event of a crisis.

Robert Wilk during tabletop exercise at Monmouth County Library, Manalapan

The program ended with a tabletop exercise on emergency preparedness to stimulate discussion and to get the librarians to create or improve an action plan.

The classes were held at the libraries in Montville, Manalalpan and Hammonton.