During the last two weeks, officers with the Oro Valley Police Department have been training at Pusch Ridge Christian Academy for something they hope they will never have to deal with – a person with a gun roaming the hallways.
Each officer spent a full day covering possible aspects and approaches to having an armed shooter in the school. Within the training exercises, organizers utilized recent shooting incidents and incorporated them into scenarios.
In past shooting incidents, police have seen suspects use everything from ropes to barricades to keep doors closed. Oro Valley officers ran through scenarios where they would cut the chains with bolt cutters to breaching a lock with a shotgun.
The officers practiced as if they were the first and only officer arriving on scene after a report of a shooter inside the school. Ideally, police would wait for more officers on scene in the event of an active shooter, but a situation like this is never going to be ideal.
Lt. Kara Riley, who has been a police officer for 22 years, spent her Monday going through the training alongside about a dozen other officers with the department.
“This is one of the best trainings I have been to,” Riley said. “In my opinion, one would be hard pressed to find a training that was as well put together as this one. I’ve gone to other active shooter trainings, and this implemented recent cases that have gone on like the Sandy Hook case and things like that where the tactics changed and we are applying it already.”
Training coordinators gave the shooter a gun with blanks in it to make the scenarios as real as possible with the sounds of gunfire. During the training, officers were given simulation ammunition, which was a round that fit in their pistol, but fired paint-filled pellets. This way, the officer and training coordinators could also evaluate an officer’s aim and grouping of his or her shots.
After the scenarios with single officers, police then ran through what the similar scene would be like with a team of multiple officers.
Each officer with the department ran through scenarios where a shooter had locked doors with chains, which is similar to what happened in the Virginia Tech shooting. Other incidents included when the shooter was quiet, had barricaded doors, or was actively shooting and quickly accessible.
Every two years, the department does an active shooter training, which Police Chief Daniel Sharp feels is very important and something all officers need to know.
“At the January eighth shooting, our officers were some of the first responders that were there. I think it speaks to the importance of all of us being together and working seamlessly. And I think it was a realization that this can happen anywhere.”
If school faculty members or employees of businesses are interested in a presentation on what to do in the event of an active shooter, they can set one up by calling the Oro Valley Police Department at 229-4900.