Iowa State Police Agencies Train New Tactics For Shootings

Lindsey Theis

Iowa State Police Agencies Train New Tactics For Shootings

CREATED Apr. 18, 2013

Council Bluffs, IA-Over the last two weeks, members of the Iowa Department of Public Safety have been running through exercises at Iowa School for the Deaf. Everyone from Iowa State Patrol troopers, special agents, division of criminal investigations agents, and state gaming officials participated.

Officers took over the hallways of an old dorm. Hundreds of fake paint rounds lined the ground.

Iowa State Patrol Sgt. Mike Wesack, also the local tactical team commander, said the difference about this training is it's the first time officers are doing it on their own.

Before the Columbine shootings, officers were told to wait for SWAT teams or back up officers to arrive before entering.Police conducted trainings with four officers entering at a time.

"In the past, you could go onto the bad guy and the second guy was checking rooms beside you. Now you don't have time you have to catch it out of your peripheral," said Justin Sackett, a state patrol officer going through the training.

"We're wanting these officers to think on their feet. Not wait for backup, not wait for another officer," Wesack said.

He adds he never thought in his 15 years of experience, he'd be training officers for another aspect they were today. Another scenario had officers responding to a scene where a conceal and carry permit holder is already there. The permit holder is not the one causing the disturbance, and offering to help.

Wesack said the spike in people carrying concealed weapons lawfully is something law enforcement has to address.

"What do you do if you are at a school and a dad with a concealed weapon is on scene with an active shooter?" he said "you're not going to talk that father into walking away and giving you their gun. They're going to want to help their kid."

It's a situation the Pottawatamie county attorney Matt Wilbur says is inevitable.

"We really thought there would be a spike and it would start slowing down and more and more people got their permits. We're really not seeing that. It's been a continual stream for the past year," he said.

There is no right way to handle the situation, Wesack said. He added liability of entering a potentially deadly situation with a civilian is something law enforcement would like to avoid at all costs.