On Wednesday, June 10, officers of the Warsaw Police Department, Pierceton Police Department and the WPD SWAT team gathered at Pierceton Elementary School for Active Shooter Training.
Active shooter situations are defined by the Department of Homeland Security as, “an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a conﬁned and populated area; in most cases, active shooters use ﬁrearm[s] and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims.”
“It could be a business, it could be an open field, shopping mall or a theater,” says Sgt. Chuck Hodges, who led the training. “It really hit home when they slaughtered those kids at Columbine. It bears on the hearts of our community when little ones go down.”
Hodges says WPD and other area law enforcement have been participating in the training for many years. Active shooter training is designed to prepare first responding officers to handle these kind of dire situations.
“It is no longer an option for first responding officers to wait,” says Hodges. “We’re not looking at this as something that’s only going to happen in L.A. or New York. It affects everyone.”
The training includes breaching a building, secondary breach points, handling a single shooter and various other scenarios. “The building that we’ve been provided is phenomenal,” says Hodges of the soon-to-be-demolished Pierceton Elementary School.
Hodges says in many cases an active shooter is killed during the situation, which makes it difficult to understand why the situation occurred in the first place. Law enforcement must look at the environment, items left behind by the shooter and talk to people who knew the shooter. “What caused this? How can we prevent this in the future?” Hodges says.
The active shooter training prepares officers to think, in and outside the box, during these high-stress, face-paced situations. Officers also used special equipment for the exercise.
Weapons were loaded with Simunition, a type of bullet composed of a plastic jacket and filled with paint. The bullets are fairly accurate, non-lethal and allow the officers to train with their duty weapons. The “bad guys” are armed with Airsoft guns. The officers can simulate live fire situations protected by just a paintball mask and long sleeves.