Resources for City Officials

In 2020-2021, PHAI researchers interviewed sixteen mayors, first responders, and experts who responded to mass shootings in Orlando, Dayton, El Paso, Pittsburgh, Parkland, and San Bernardino (see links below to case briefs). Based on their experiences and recommendations, we created the Mass Shooting Protocol & Playbook to help mayors, city managers, and their staff prepare for, respond to, and help their communities recover from a mass shooting. Many of the best practices may apply to other extreme emergencies, such as a terrorist attack or other mass casualty incident, such as a building collapse or fire. We also developed the Tabletop Exercise Template, which city leaders can use to prepare their response to a mass shooting.

Links to Key Mass Shooting Resources

Mass Shooting Protocol

The Protocol is a four-page overview of a mayor’s role during the first 24 hours after a mass shooting. It highlights the key decisions a mayor will need to make and contains links to the Mass Shooting Playbook that can provide additional information as needed. A checklist highlighting immediate action steps is included. To download the Protocol, please click here.

Mass Shooting Playbook

The Playbook is a 200-page resource guide informed by the recommendations and experience of mayors who have responded to a mass shooting. It is organized into ten topic areas: communications, emergency management, victims and families, law enforcement, donations, school shootings, community partnerships, legal considerations, commemorations, and mental health. Each chapter includes the actions and training that a mayor can take in advance of a mass shooting; actions a mayor should take during the response phase; and guidance for providing services to victims, family members, and the broader community as they recover.

The Playbook features case briefs of the six mass shootings researched for the project, with key takeaways. These case briefs may be useful to mayors for planning and training purposes, as well as to researchers and law enforcement officials. To obtain these case briefs, choose from links below:

  • Case Brief: Dayton Oregon District Shooting (Ohio)
  • Case Brief: El Paso Walmart Shooting (Texas)
  • Case Brief: Orlando Pulse Nightclub Shooting (Florida)
  • Case Brief: Parkland School Shooting (Florida)
  • Case Brief: Pittsburgh Tree of Life Shooting (Pennsylvania)
  • Case Brief: San Bernardino Terrorist Attack (California)

Finally, the Playbook includes appendices that contain supplemental information, including a summary of all training resources, funding resources, how to manage a presidential visit, and information about responding to community gun violence and preventing suicide.

Tabletop Exercise Template

There is no substitution for preparation. The Tabletop Exercise Template is a tool you can use with your staff, law enforcement, other city officials and stakeholders to plan your response to a mass shooting. To download the template, please click here.

"Required reading for every mayor."

-- Mayor Buddy Dyer, Orlando FL

How to Obtain a Copy

  • To read or print the Protocol online, click here.
  • To read the Playbook online, click here.
  • Printing: the Playbook is over 200 pages, so we do not recommend printing the entire resource on an office or home printer. However, this link can be sent to a local printer to be printed on demand. Or you can print individual case briefs, chapters, or appendices using the links below.
  • To purchase a printed copy of the Playbook, click here.

Chapter 1: Communications
Strategies for engaging with the press, social media management, and developing trauma-informed messaging

Chapter 2: Emergency Management
Operationalizing the emergency response to a mass shooting through municipal preparedness plans and systems

Chapter 3: Victim and Family Assistance
Key considerations for providing services to victims and their families

Chapter 4: Collaborating with Law Enforcement
Best practices for effective engagement with law enforcement agencies

Chapter 5: Donations & Volunteer Management
Best practices for establishing the victims’ fund and managing volunteers

Chapter 6: School Shootings
Issues and resources specific to school shootings, including school security considerations and student mental health and wellness

Chapter 7: Community Partnerships
Strategies for engaging local and national partners in the preparation, response, and recovery phases (especially important for victims’ services)

Chapter 8: Legal Considerations
Issues that should be reviewed by the city’s attorneys to reduce potential liability

Chapter 9: Commemorations
Guidance for commemorating the victims, planning permanent memorials, and preserving artifacts

Chapter 10: Mental Health
Information and resources related to trauma recovery and community resilience

Afterword: A Note About Community Gun Violence

Appendix A: Training and Preparedness Recommendations

Appendix B:  Managing VIP Visits

Appendix C: Funding Opportunities

Appendix D: To Prevent Mass Killings, Prevent Suicides

Appendix E: Additional Resources from the National Mass Violence Victimization Resource Center