The day after a shooting at a school in Atlanta Tuesday drove home the need for active shooter training, and in Cheney Wednesday an active shooting drill gave law enforcement officers from across the county the opportunity to work together and prepare for a similar situation.
The exercise, being held at Cheney Middle School, is something these officers have already trained for, but actually working in a school setting gives them the first opportunity to practice together and prepare for the worst case scenario.
When a dangerous person comes onto any campus with a gun, there's no absolute approach officers can take, but there are certain techniques they can use to keep your children safe and take down a gunman.
"While you are safe 99.9 percent of the time, what are you going to do if it's your school, it's your day and that bad guy comes here. Are you going to be ready?" Eastern Washington University Assistant Police Chief Gary Gasseling said.
Wednesday's exercise, hosted by the EWU Police Department, involved the Washington State Patrol, Cheney and Spokane Police, Spokane County Sheriff's Office and even the Washington State University Police Department, because if an active shooter incident happened in the Inland Northwest most of those agencies would likely respond.
"Then we've set up different stations so they can build on the base of what they're trying to accomplish," Gasseling said.
During the training, officers worked in formation, going down hallways, scanning the area quickly for a potential gunman.
"We're working as individuals and working as teams," Gasseling said.
Officers also inspected school buses for the best access points and they acted as if a dangerous person with a knife walked onto campus.
"If somebody who's intoxicated, on drugs, or has mental issues and they're carrying a knife, the school's going to go into lockdown, police are going to respond, so that scenario is very realistic out there," Gasseling said.
This is the sixth year EWU has hosted the training exercise and police hope exercises like this will help keep children in their classrooms across the region safer.
"We have to be prepared for the worst case scenario so we can hopefully minimize or mitigate the amount of damage that's done," Gasseling said.
The officers who practiced during the day Wednesday will put this skill set to the test with a full response active shooter exercise, which will include firefighters and actors who will roleplay as injured victims, at Cheney Middle School Wednesday evening.
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