When a gunman opened fire on an aerobics class at the in Collier Township, police officers from across the region were ready to help. But each officer had trained differently about how to neutralize an active shooter, prompting different responses.
“We found out we weren’t ready for anything like that,” said Collier police Chief Tom Devin, whose department spearheaded the response. “All the departments train, but we all train separately. They’re coming in with a different outlook. It’s not wrong, but it was different.
“We said we need to train together.”
To have a more cohesive response, the and 16 other area police agencies are planning an “active shooter” drill on the campus in January.
The officers will train at the high school on Jan. 16 and brief the faculty on what to expect should the unthinkable happen. The teachers will be in the building for an in-service day, although they won’t be involved in the actual police drills.
“Not only does it help us to train up there at a building we have access to, but it also gives (the faculty) an idea of what to expect if something happens,” Devin said. “They practice for a fire drill all the time.”
The Char-West Council of Governments, an intergovernmental group that includes Collier, Bridgeville and 15 other area municipalities, is funding the initiative, Devin said. He added that the Scott Township and Heidelberg police departments will also join in the January “active shooter” training.
He said the officer will be using “simulated ammunition” similar to paint balls that are easier to clean up. Officers participating in the training will be wearing helmets, neck braces and chest protectors.
Devin said his police department also spoke with teachers and staff at the primary school last year, making them aware of how to handle certain situations.
“After that, they said it was one of the better trainings they ever had at the primary school,” Devin said.