Protecting the public from the random violence of an active shooter – it’s become an increasingly important scenario for police officers to address, and that’s why reserve officers from Muncie spent part of their weekend in a special training session.
While the drama looks very real, it’s only a drill. In this scenario, there’s a gunman on the loose in an office building.
“We’re putting them through a situation that’s as real as possible to an actual incident,” said reserve officer Jay Dotson, who also serves as a consultant for Lighthouse Readiness Group, a local company that provides various types of disaster preparedness training.
Trainees also had to deal with sirens, flashing lights, and distractions like trip wires, lurking at every corner.
“One of the phrases we use in law enforcement is, ‘We train like we fight, and we fight like we train,’” Dotson said. “So we want to train as close to the actual situation as possible, so if they ever do have to respond to an active shooter situation, that they’re in a situation where they feel somewhat familiar.”
“The biggest thing is communication and trying to maintain security all around while everyone is looking for the threats,” said trainee Richard Little.
The bullets they use aren’t real, but they do sting.
Trainee Jennifer Perez took one of the air-soft bullets right to the face.
“I got the nice battle wound to prove it,” she said. “It’s hard to do when your heart is pounding out of your chest.”
“You have to keep your eyes open,” said trainee Corey Gunter. “You have to make sure you address any threats.”
And after tragic events like the shooting at Sandy Hook elementary, trainees hope it’s training they never have to use.
“You don’t expect those things to ever happen, but it can happen anywhere,” said Perez. “It’s all really good information even if you were somebody who was just a bystander or you get caught as a victim.”
“Universities, schools, malls, any type of business all need to have some sort of disaster plan in place,” said Dotson. “A lot of the officers who are together today may not work together, they may have never worked together before, but this training will build that teamwork and put them in a position where they have a tactical advantage in this type of situation.”