It can be terrifying to think that someone with ill intentions would walk into a place where you feel safe and shatter that feeling of safety with violence. But in today’s world, it is a sobering reality.
That’s why the Muslim Community Association (MCA) is working with the Santa Clara Police Department (SCPD) to teach community members how to deal with just such a situation.
“The unfortunate reality of the world today is that horrible attacks can take place at places of worship,” said Fouad Khatib, MCA President. “We’re hoping that we can make our community more aware and better prepared. Hoping that they will never have to use this training, but in case they find themselves in an active shooter situation, they should know what to do and they should learn this from the professionals.”
On May 4, the SCPD held a special workshop with more than 200 members of the MCA. The department teaches the federally-endorsed “Run, Hide, Fight” concept during all of its active shooter training courses.
“The overarching goal for the training is to preserve life and assist the law enforcement response during an attack,” said SCPD Public Information Officer, Lieutenant Todd Cummins.
The training is especially important now because the month of Ramadan has just started. With more people coming and going from the center every day, security is a high priority.
Members of the MCA agree. There was such a large response to the training that organizers had to close registration.
“Everybody was happy with it,” said MCA Social Committee Coordinator Baha Shadid who attended the training. “It was supposed to be for 1 1/2 hours; it took two hours, and then after we stopped, everybody was going to the sergeant and we were asking questions and it took another hour to three hours. He was very friendly. We really appreciate his support.”
The MCA also put the presentation up on its Facebook page so that members who were unable to attend the training could still gain some knowledge.
In addition to the training, the MCA has provided other ways for its members to protect themselves. Shadid says more than 80 members were certified during a recent first aid training course and a number of the center’s members have completed a self-defense course.
Khatib says the responses he has received from MCA members have been very positive.
“They very much appreciate. They want to be prepared. They recognize that we need to be trained…hoping that this never occurs,” said Khatib. “They’re very appreciative that the MCA center itself is offering not just the active shooter training, but we’re taking other precautions in terms of safety. We have another meeting scheduled with SCPD to explore improvement of security by other means.”
The visit to the MCA is just the first in a series of active shooter training sessions that the SCPD is offering throughout the community. This week, the department will be holding a similar session for an audience of Santa Clara-based businesses.
To find out more about the “Run, Hide, Fight” concept, you can visit the Department of Homeland Security website at https://www.ready.gov/active-shooter.