LEAD, S.D. â€” They used rubber bullets and fictitious scenarios, but the skills developed by more than 25 local law enforcement officers recently at an active shooter training held at Lead-Deadwood High School will be highly invaluable should an actual threat present itself.
It was arranged by Lead-Deadwood School Resource Officer Kip Mau of the Deadwood Police Department, and orchestrated by active shooter trainers Detective Tavis Little of the Lawrence County Sheriffâ€™s Office and Detective Darin Pedneau of the Spearfish Police Department.
The training, as described in a story by the Black Hills Pioneer (http://bit.ly/YawyV7 ), included representatives from the Lawrence County Sheriffâ€™s Office, Deadwood Police Department, Lead Police Department, United States Forest Service and South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks.
â€śOur goal today is to increase cooperation between multiple agencies to effectively increase the safety in our community by maximizing our manpower,â€ť said Little, who along with Pedneau attended a school that trained them in active shooter engagement and conflict resolution. â€śVery few of our agencies around here are big enough to handle this type of incident (alone), so cooperation is a must in a situation like this.â€ť
Deadwood Police Chief Kelly Fuller said throughout the course of the day, officers ran through every type of scenario that could possibly happen and respond with a coordinated response.
â€śObviously, with all the school shootings that have happened over the past several years, weâ€™re taking the opportunity to come in here for multi-jurisdiction training,â€ť Fuller said.
He added that the agencies would use lessons learned from prior incidents including school shootings at Columbine and Sandy Hook and the movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colo.
â€śWe can take those historic incidents and learn from them. This way we have a trained, coordinated response in case this type of incident would happen in our jurisdiction,â€ť Fuller said. â€śOur main goal is to protect that lives of children and teachers, preventing tragedy. Everything weâ€™re doing today is for the protection of life safety.â€ť
The trainers attempted to make the scenarios posed as realistic as possible.
â€śWeâ€™re utilizing air soft guns powered by carbon dioxide,â€ť Fuller said. â€śThey shoot rubberized pellets and they sting a little bit if you get hit.â€ť
Sgt. Rob Lester of the Deadwood Police Department took a few hits Friday, but the knowledge he took away was quite valuable.
â€śEven after being in law enforcement this long, itâ€™s all new tactics,â€ť Lester said. â€śIt takes a whole different mindset to go to an active shooter scene. You have to train yourself to step over victims and absolutely put yourself in harmâ€™s way so no innocent children are harmed.â€ť
Mau said that this is the second time in the last five years this type of drill was done and was prompted by a request from a local law enforcement agency.
â€śChief Wainman called after Sandy Hook and said he added a couple of new officers and that needed to know what the school layout looked like,â€ť Mau said. â€śAt the end of the training, weâ€™ll have 26 people from different going through the entire school, which is a benefit because this layout is very unique.â€ť
Mau added that the training was done with the support of the school board and administration and that school was not in session during the training.
â€śAny time we have training of this sort to do, they have been willing to let us have the building. The school has been more than supportive,â€ť he said.
Bottom line is, should a bona fide active shooter situation present itself in Lawrence County, there are now more than two dozen individuals acquainted with the appropriate procedures to follow.
â€śI hope they learn a set of skills that is multi-agency shared,â€ť Little said. â€śThrough application of these techniques and through dynamic training, theyâ€™re less overwhelmed and more equipped to deal with the crisis at hand.â€ť