Realistic scenarios help police train

Realistic scenarios help police train

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NEWMAN – Teams of local police officers took turns swarming into an Orestimba High classroom wing occupied by a role-playing gunman Saturday morning, exchanging fire as they moved from room to room before eventually neutralizing the campus shooters.

It was all a drill – a realistic crisis response exercise which everybody involved hopes to never have to put to the test in a real-life campus emergency.

Officers took part in two separate scenarios, including the entry into a classroom wing where terrified students were hiding, casualties had been suffered and – somewhere – one or more shooters were laying in wait.

The screams of the students, the “wounded” students, the sharp crack of gunfire and the general chaos made the scenario chillingly real – which Police Chief Adam McGill said was precisely the intention.

“You can’t provide any more realistic training. You can watch videos and walk through things, but for officers to experience being fired at, and the feel of that, it definitely gets the adrenaline going,” said McGill. “It was as real as we could make it. The officers came away with a more realistic understanding of what an active shooter situation may be like, and the chaos involved in that.”

Officers and bad guys were using “simunition” rounds in weapons identical to their own service firearms. The rounds fire a soap-filled slug. “It is regular ammo fired through a real firearm,” McGill explained.

All but one member of the local department participated.

In a real-life campus crisis, McGill said, local police would be responsible for the immediate response. The drills were conducted with that fact in mind.

“I wanted our officers to experience how difficult it would be to have only three or four officers involved and be responsible for everybody,” he commented. “That pressure is immense.”

The Stanislaus County Office of Education, Newman-Crows Landing Unified School District, school staff members, West Side Ambulance, the Newman Volunteer Fire Department, volunteer students and parents and the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department were involved in the exercise.

The activity was grant-funded through the Office of Education.

Officers from the sheriff’s department critiqued the response, and briefed officers after each scenario.

“The evaluators were very impressed by how well we did with limited resources,” McGill related. “I was very pleased with the outcome, and that we came away with some new experience and knowledge that hopefully we will never have to use.”

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