Police Cadets Train for Active Shooters at Jordan High School
Aug 03, 2016 10:04AM
By Chris Larson
Cadets round a corner in formation just before encountering Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Daniel Krum, who acted as an active shooter at Jordan High School on July 5. —Chris Larson
By Chris Larson | [email protected]
Sandy, Utah - The acrid smell of spent gunpowder filled the halls of Jordan High School as Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Daniel Krum ran down an upstairs corridor.
Just seconds behind, a contact squads of Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) police cadets move in “T-Formation” down the hall. The team moves to a near sprint as Krum shoots blanks from a revolver.
“We’ll expose them to stress as much as possible without overloading them,” Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Wyatt Weber said. “If I can stress them, then when they are in the real deal, they will handle it a lot better.”
Weber ran the July 6 active shooter training at Jordan High School. POST uses the school during the summer and the evenings to teach new cadets a “basic introduction” to active shooter incidents about every month and a half, Weber said.
The cadets get about four hours of lecture before suiting up for the training.
Weber noted that line officers didn’t always act as the initial contact on active shooter situations. He said this training typically fell to SWAT officers.
After prolific television and internet news coverage of the 1999 Columbine High School shooting in Littleton, Colorado, Weber said police agencies nationwide were pressured to train line officers in responding to active shooter situations, rather than simply containing the situation and waiting while the suspect continues with their rampage.
Much of the evening’s training fell under the direction of current or former members of the Utah Highway Patrol’s Special Emergency Response Team, like Krum and Weber.
As criminal elements become more sophisticated or dangerous, the police are called to “step up,” as Weber said, to save lives by stopping an actively shooting suspect and helping victims.
“We’re training these guys to deal with a North Hollywood, a Columbine, a—heaven forbid—Orlando type shooting and hoping for the best,” Weber said.
He challenges the concept that this training making a police force militarized.
“You can be tactically sound and be a good, friendly, everyday police officer,” Weber said.
The cadets are either hired by a department or are corrections officer transitioning to patrol duties.
The core tactics practiced were the tactics of moving through a building, stopping and apprehending the shooter and the protocol after apprehension.
Krum said the cadets trained with special “sim-gun” 9 mm pistols that look, feel and shoot like real guns; rather than a bullet, the sim-guns shoot a paint-like projectile more than 700 feet-per-second, double the speed of a typical paintball gun.
As part of the simulations, Krum would present different scenarios to test the cadets ability to order and apprehend a suspect of differing levels of compliance, or ability to confront a suspect who shoots back.
The cadets did shoot their sim-guns at Krum and Krum played as if he was injured where shot.
In addition to tactics, the cadets were taught “tactical combat casualty care.” Weber said this includes stopping massive hemorrhaging, extending life and transporting to medical professionals. Specific skills included sealing chest would, applying tourniquets and packing wounds.
The simulations are intended to test and build the cadets ability to quickly and correctly process information, Weber said.
Many scenarios included recordings of audio track of crowds of people screaming, loud sirens and blank rounds to simulate the sounds and smells of gun shots. The combination of the sights, sounds and physical activity of the drill is intended to force cadets into a stressful situation.
For civilians, preparation for active shooter situations is more difficult, according to Weber.
“It’s hard to say do this or to that because every situation is so different that you can’t tell people exact what to do,” Weber said.
Having and practicing a plan with contingencies, including where to run or to hide, allows for civilians to chose the best situations as possible in many situations.
Utah Highway Patrol troopers split the class into groups of five and spent several minutes teaching the cadets several methods of handling movement with permutations on location in the building and the numbers of officers involved.
Sgt. Ben Fallows and Krum trained the whole class to turn towards a near wall and away from squad mates when turning around.
“If we are engaged from behind and I turn around like this,” Fallows said as he turned toward cadets standing in formation to turn around, holding his hands in front of him as if he held a rifle. “What did I just do? I could have shot my whole squad.”
The squads practiced everything from moving in formation, to where to stand in a hallway or hallway intersection, to how to apprehend a suspect in an active shooter situation with a squad.
“It’s all about angles,” Krum said to his squad about where to place squad members while covering an arrest. “Remember, we all want to stay on the same side of the street when making this arrest.”
Weber said it’s the police’s job to assume the risks of protecting a community for those who want to harm others, and that the training prepares cadets for that reality long before they experience it.