'Act right here and right now': Police prep for shooter attacks
By Kevin Keen. CREATED Jul 11, 2013
ORO VALLEY, Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) - They're preparing for the worst by learning from the past. Oro Valley police are starting two weeks of specialized training on how to stop a shooter on the loose. The tactics taught this time around are a dramatic shift from those in the past.
During part of the training, an officer headed down a hallway and encountered a pretend gunman. The officer fired Simunition -- training ammunition -- which stopped the armed “active shooter.”
“It can happen anywhere and it can happen at any time,” said Chief Daniel Sharp.
“It's in movie theaters. It's shopping malls,” added Lt. Curtiss Hicks. “It can happen anywhere. It can be the restaurant you're in eating at tonight.”
A big part of today's training is quite different from what instructors taught officers in the past.
“When I went through the academy in ‘97,” Sgt. Zachary Pierce said, “if we had situation like this, the standard practice was to call for SWAT and wait for SWAT.”
In other words: hold and wait for backup.
But police departments have learned from shootings in the past few years.
“Unfortunately, we learn every time there's an event,” Chief Sharp said, “and we've done a lot of learning.”
“For example, the January 8th shooting just down the road from here -- all those casualties were inflicted in 15 seconds,” said Ofc. Mike Gracie.
That lesson is seconds count because lives are on the line.
So now, Sgt. Pierce said, “we are imploring our officers to act and act right away. Gone are the days of waiting for SWAT to show up.”
“They need to know that it's going to be their day to shine,” Pierce said about the officer who responds to a situation alone. “You need to act right here and right now because people are dying.”
Officers on the street and in schools are taught how react and what tools to use. Those tools include rams, bolt cutters and sledge hammers to get through a possibly barricaded door.
When asked if he ever expected to use the training, Gracie said, “It's better to have the training and not need it than need it and not have it.”
The Oro Valley Police Department will train for the next two weeks at Pusch Ridge Christian Academy on North Oracle. The department said officers will stay inside so neighbors shouldn't be disturbed.