The laid on the ground outside, quiet and still. She had curled herself up; her knees brought close, offering false comfort. The fall had hurt. There was no time to brace herself — she needed to get away.
He frantically ran around, not giving the girl one more glance. She was no longer the girl that got him arrested earlier. He was barely even yelling then, he thought. At that moment he had other concerns: His remaining classmates emotionally frozen inside; some of them ran — campus safety was sure to be on its way; the local police department after that, and later, SWAT.
It was just him now — him and his blue plastic pistol.
A popular tactic to help train for active shooter events is to produce active shooter training scenarios. Intruder response training has become a regular practice for many campuses, school districts and law enforcement agencies, yet can present responsive options for the community as well.
Located off the shore of Lake Michigan, the Concordia University Wisconsin produced their first-ever training for an active shooter situation late March 2009. The scenario included the University's campus safety department, law enforcement, county SWAT, the Department of Emergency Preparedness: Office of Emergency Management, the local hospital and high school as well as a few acting students from the University's theatre department.
Starting a long period of planning, Concordia University Wisconsin had begun the event's preparation in response to the tragedies of Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois. While careful tactics were carried out, the training revealed more about communications than was previously considered.
"Each time there was a new disaster shooting, such as Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois, we attempt to learn from each incident," says Mario Valdes, Director of Campus Safety of Concordia University Wisconsin. His department tried to learn what some of the deterrents were and the things those responding would have done differently in hindsight.
To Valdes, it was communications. "Some were lacking communications and lacked educating the public — the students and staff — to look for certain signs and then to share that information," he says.
Other universities conduct similar active shooter training events. The University of California (UC)-Riverside has performed shooter training for two years so far; the 2009 summer will mark their third year. The UC-Riverside Police Department (PD) training takes place each June in and around a vacant residence hall on campus. They include participation from the City of Riverside Police Department Metro (SWAT) team and bomb squad.
"The first year that we did training, a Lieutenant with the Riverside County (California) Sheriff's Department that had been to the Virginia Tech debrief provided a summary of what was talked about — the lessons they learned about when you find doors chained up and alternatives for breaching through windows," says Lieutenant John Freese of the UC-Riverside PD.
As planning of the Concordia University Wisconsin event continued, the pre-conceived notions of a tactics-only event changed. "[Ultimately] it was an exercise in communications and how well we communicate with Concordia University Wisconsin, its security, the fire department and with emergency management," says Captain Daniel Buntrock of the Mequon, Wis., PD. He explains that during the planning, the organizations involved started to understand each other's needs, concerns and the reasoning behind each other's actions.
In an attempt to create a realistic simulation, Concordia University Wisconsin used Blue Guns to simulate firearms, civilian and officer alike, a temporary radio dispatch set up on campus for the scenario's use only as well as video cameras to record the action.
To achieve the same realistic experience, UC-Riverside utilizes Simunitions in its active shooter training and records the action with handheld cameras.