The guns and targets may have been fake, but law enforcement officers gathered at Monday for hands-on training to respond to real life mass shootings.
But just hours before Monday’s training, a man opened fire near Texas A&M University, killing two and wounding four before being shot to death by police.
Captain Tim Staab said Monday’s shooting, as well as recent tragedies in . and , were telling signs that officer response training to these types of incidents are more important now than ever.
“These types of shootings are rare. The chances of it happening here are so miniscule, but if it were to happen, we want to make sure our officers are ready,” said Staab. “Training once a year is going to guarantee that.”
Since the Columbine shootings in Colorado more than a decade ago, Glendora Police have conducted annual active shooter trainings to better respond to potentially devastating scenarios. In previous years, Glendora Police conducted the training on elementary and high school campuses. Monday’s training was the first to take place at Citrus College.
About a dozen officers took part in simulated gunfire, where officers dodged imaginary bullets, looked out for booby traps and tried to locate and disarm, or “silence,” an armed shooter.
The training focused on rapid deployment tactics, which are normally used by SWAT teams. Previously, officers had been trained to wait for SWAT response before entering the scene.
But in the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings, the victims were shot on average 1.5 seconds apart, said Cpl. Michael Henderson.
“Officers don’t have the luxury of waiting,” said Henderson. “Once officers arrive and they hear gunfire, they’re going to address the threat. If we can turn the suspect’s attention to law enforcement, we can keep him from shooting civilians.”
Henderson said local law enforcement analyzed the response to the shootings in Aurora, Colo.
After a gunman opened fire in a crowded theater in Aurora, Colo last month during the opening night of The Dark Knight Rises, authorities estimated it took paramedics 22 minutes to reach the theater and treat the first victim.
“With better communication between police officers and firefighters, we saw great grounds for improvement,” said Henderson.
Monday’s training included several L.A. County firefighters who observed and offered feedback.
“We have to be proactive along with Glendora PD and be more prepared for a situation like the shootings we’ve seen in the news,” said Fire Captain David Munoz.
While Glendora Police has not experienced a large-scale mass shooting, Henderson said the training has helped in previous local incidents. Glendora Police officers have used the tactics in response to two bomb threats made on the Citrus College campus in the last year.
While both were false alarms, Henderson said officers approached both occasions as if they were actual events.
Police Chief Rob Castro said the trainings also helped save lives during last year’s shootout between Instead of waiting for backup, Stabio pursued Varela who opened fire after running into a busy supermarket.
Stabio returned fire and wounded Varela. Varela later died from his injuries. There were no other fatalities or injuries.
Glendora officers in the regional SWAT team also used some of the training tactics during last year’s .
“If we don’t attempt to stop the suspect, there is a higher chance that he will injure or kill civilian victims and that’s what we want to prevent,” said Castro.
Henderson said training tactics are constantly being revised and fine-tuned.
“That is going to help us in better planning in an actual incident,” said Henderson “That dialogue will already be established. We won’t have to reinvent the wheel as it’s occurring.”