Press-Republican

Friday

January 25, 2013

University Police learn from active shooter training

Plattsburgh officers carried unloaded weapons for active-shooter training

PLATTSBURGH — University Police are now “more prepared” should a school shooting happen at SUNY Plattsburgh, Police Chief Arlene Sabo said.

The department recently completed a series of four active-shooter training days. Officers were trained in a scenario based on an initial single-officer response to a campus attack involving a gunman.

Officers carried unloaded training weapons for portions of the eight-hour course, which is recognized as a best practice by the New York State Department of Criminal Justice.

It’s coincidental that the first training day was scheduled less than a month after the Newtown, Conn., shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

‘YOU CAN’T WAIT’

The way police approach a shooting situation has changed drastically over the years, Sabo said.

At the time of Columbine High School shootings almost 14 years ago, the protocol for shooting situations was to call in members of law enforcement who would know how to respond to the situation and wait for them to arrive, she said.

“You can’t do that. You can’t wait,” she said of the new methods.

It may take 15 or 20 minutes for reinforcements to arrive at the site of the shooting, Sabo said, so police officers need to know what to do should they be the only officer present initially as the shooting is happening.

REACTING TO SHOOTER

Although 93 percent of crimes involving college students happen off campus, Sabo said, it’s important for the campus community to be prepared for anything.

And that’s not limited to the campus community and police. Preparedness is everyone’s responsibility, Sabo said.

Victims have three choices during an attack: run, hide or fight back, she said.

“If you can get out safely, get out,” Sabo said, noting that awareness of exits is key.

Fighting back is the last and worst-case scenario, Sabo said.

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