The ‘New Normal’

By on September 19, 2018


Ephrata Review


Chief Harvey

“An emergency is not the time to have introductions and exchange business cards.” — Ephrata Police Chief William ‘Bill’ Harvey

Chief William ‘Bill’ Harvey’s message resonated to everyone that packed the conference room down the hall from the Ephrata Review’s newsroom during an “Active Shooter” seminar.

“Take a look at the person sitting to your left,” said the long-time Ephrata Police Chief, security expert, and instructor.

After a pause, he said, “Now turn and see who’s to your right.”

“You are looking at your first responders to an active shooter situation,” Harvey said.

That is the “new normal,” he said. The threat is real and if you didn’t prepare for it internally you’re not going to react well.

The new normal is a product of history — there have been more active shooter incident since 1999 since all of before 1999, Harvey noted.

Harvey, a native Virginian who transplanted to Savannah Ga. Before coming to Pennsylvania, has a long history as a training instructor.

He knew the Ephrata Review workers were an engaged group at the newspaper offices, where all were well aware of the recent shooter in Annapolis Md. who shot up the newsroom of the Capital Gazette killing five people and injuring two more.

Security at The Ephrata Review building was also compromised when a bloody intruder on Jan. 30 broke through a glass door into the office area and ransacked the property causing more than $5,000 in damages. Management has significantly upgraded security and surveillance in the building where workers must log in during late/early hours.

Harvey admitted there’s often an underlying principle among even police chiefs and local politicians who subscribe to the “It-can-never-happen-here” mindset.

While it’s perhaps more comfortable living in denial than facing reality and preparing properly, the “new normal” makes that impossible. He emphasized how the attack on children in the Amish School in Nickel Mines in 2006 changed everything locally.

“We are not in Camelot anymore, it could happen here,” Harvey said. “October 2, 2006 eliminated the “it-will-never-happen-here mentality.”

While all police chiefs are expected to properly equip his or her department and insure proper training is delivered to all agency personnel, Harvey takes it a step further by going out into the community to train civilians to be prepared for the worst.

Discussing the need for a speedy response, Harvey again hit on the theme of preparedness and a “smart response,” stating, “an emergency is not the time to have introductions and exchange business cards.”

“Your first 20 minutes on the scene is probably going to decide how the rest of the movie is going to be scripted,” he said. “I want this to be a good, winning movie, so a lot of things need to be attended to up front, way before we get started.”

Harvey, who served as a sergeant in the U.S. Army Military Police Corps and earned a B.A. in criminology from St. Leo University, stresses that preparation means gauging your surroundings using a “do-but-what-if- then” mindset to sense trouble.

Question physical and environmental anomalies such as “What should be there that isn’t and what is there that shouldn’t be,” he noted

Harvey praised Ephrata Mayor and firefighter, Ralph Mowen — who participated in a recent triage drill at WellSpan Ephrata Community Hospital where guns fired blanks and even fake blood was used to simulate an active shooting incident.

The chief said local fire departments may offer a blueprint for planning.

“Learn from fire departments who do pre-plans all the time,” he said. “They visit a building to see what it looks like before it was burning.”

Harvey encourages the public to subscribe to the “OODA loop” decision cycle of observe, orient, decide, and act, which was developed by military strategist and United States Air Force Colonel John Boyd.

“In emergency situations such as an active shooter, things change quickly that’s why it’s important to update your observation and makes sense (of changes) to make sure know what to do and do it,” he said.

Harvey is actually a part-time journalist, who has published several articles in professional periodicals and has lectured nationwide. His story in this month’s edition of Law Enforcement Technology is entitled “Crime Prevention: In Houses of Worship.”

He notes that there are a number of training programs to use in combating an active shooter, including one made by the Department of Homeland security on You Tube at

The video boils down Harvey’s training concept in there are three option to survive an active shooting event: Run, Hide, or Fight.

That said, the first rule is get out if you can.

“Always try to escape or evacuate even while others insist on staying and encourage others to leave with you but don’t let them slow you down with indecision,” he said.

With that in mind, Harvey noted that people should know that the initial first responders are not there to care for the injured; they’ve come to take out the intruder.

The training by Harvey, who served as the chief of police in the city of Lebanon for more than seven years before coming to Ephrata in 2009, was very well received by workers at the Ephrata Review, Lititz Record Express, and Lancaster Farming.

Kris Martin, a sales employee at the paper, said Harvey’s presentation was excellent because his knowledge was evident and he painted a simple and clear message.

“His extensive training and knowledge of these situations was evident and clearly shared with the group,” Martin said. “It’s unfortunate that this information needs to be shared with others but since it does, his presentation would be valuable to many other people. “

Likewise, Mellissa Hunnefield, features editor, said the most moving part was “when Chief Harvey asked us each to look to the left of us, then to the right. ‘These are your first responders,’ he told us, ‘and you are theirs’.”

“We are more than co-workers. We’re friends,” she said. “Chief Harvey’s presentation gave practical advice to help us not only take care of ourselves in an active shooter situation — but each other as well.”

Patrick Burns is news editor for the Lititz Record Express. He welcomes your questions and comments and can be reached at or at 721-4455

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *