Active Shooter Training an Uncomfortable Necessity

Cordova’s responders will be training in a new way next month. The Cordova Police Department, in conjunction with the Cordova School District, will be participating in an “active shooter” training the week of August 4th, 2011. It is not a comfortable thought, the idea that someone might go into a Cordova establishment and start shooting…. but think about it we will. This training will give our police officers the tools they need should they ever encounter this situation. We cannot pretend it may not happen in a small isolated Alaskan community. One of the first nationwide school active shooter scenarios took place in 1997…in Bethel…Alaska.

Then there was Columbine. Most adults remember that day. It was a tragedy that struck at the heart of each person glued to the television in horror. Sadly, the first officers on that scene had never trained for what they experienced: There were no negotiations. No hostages. No demands. Just killing. Prior to the Columbine High School tragedy, police officers were trained to wait; to wait for the SWAT teams to come in. But that takes too long and it was apparent that the killer needed to be stopped sooner than that. Thus, “active shooter “ training was born.

Now, instead of waiting, officers are trained to go in immediately. Stop the killer. Step over the wounded, if needed. Stop the killer. Rush towards the gunfire. Stop the killer. And it has worked. Around the country, police say the strategy has saved lives time and again. It is completely opposite of what they were trained to do years ago, but it is working.

We are fortunate to have Chief of Police Robert Baty providing this training during the first week of August. He, and his visiting co-instructor, basically started the active shooter training in Alaska after the Bethel shooting and have taken the course to numerous Alaskan communities since then. Officers will go through a full 2 days of training, culminating in a third day of life-like scenarios in the Cordova High School on August 4th. Response to the training in other Alaskan communities has been overwhelmingly positive. In addition to the officers themselves becoming educated, volunteers who participated as “victims” or observers came away with a significantly broader understanding of the entire process and critical role that the police will play.

Volunteers are needed to act as victims and perpetrators and observers on August 4th, noon – 4:00 pm (times may vary slightly). Please call Joanie Behrends (424-5773) if you are potentially interested, have any questions, or have any concerns. Senior High students! You will also gain Learn and Serve hours for participating in this training.

Cordova police and schools are preparing. We hope this preparation is never needed. But if it is, we will be trained. And be as ready as possible.