States need reporting system to flag potential mass shooting incidents, says former Colorado law enforcement officer

In this aerial photograph from a drone, police officers continue their investigation of a shooting at a King Soopers grocery store where multiple people were killed, including a police officer on March 23, 2021, Boulder, Colorado, USA. Photo by Michael Ciaglo-USA TODAY

President Joe Biden spoke at the White House today to mourn the victims of another mass shooting in Boulder on Monday: “Ten lives have been lost. More families have been shattered by gun violence in the state of Colorado. Jill and I are devastated. And the feeling, I just can't imagine how the families are feeling, the victims whose futures were stolen from them, from their families, from their loved ones.”

Colorado has a long history of high-profile mass shootings: Columbine High School in 1999, the Aurora movie theater in 2012, and now the King Soopers grocery store in Boulder. Colorado has more mass shootings per capita than all but four states, according to a 2019 analysis by the Denver Post.

As these shootings take place, it’s a grave reminder of the need to invest in preventative infrastructure, such as a system where concerned parties can report their observations, and trained professionals can assess threats. That’s all according to Susan Payne, a former law enforcement officer and founder of Colorado’s Safe2Tell program. 

“There is no jurisdictional boundary to mass acts of violence, whether it's Las Vegas or most recently Atlanta. We are seeing it across our nation,” she says. “No matter what we do in that conversation, we have to prepare as if there are guns both legally and illegally available, and how we identify those that are exhibiting concerning behavior or are broadcasting in advance of a tragedy like this.” 

Credits

Guest:
Susan Payne - former local and state police officer in Colorado; founder of Colorado’s Safe2Tell program; research associate with the Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence at the University of Colorado, Boulder

Host:
Madeleine Brand

Producers:
Sarah Sweeney, Angie Perrin, Michell Eloy, Amy Ta, Rosalie Atkinson, Brian Hardzinski, Bennett Purser