Training Exercise Prepares Police for School Shooting

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(Editors Note: This story originally aired on September 18, 2012)

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- Since the Columbine school shooting 13 years ago, police departments all over the country have trained to handle a similar situation. On Tuesday, officer with Overland Park Police trained for an active shooter scenario.

Officers used a school that is closed, Antioch Middle School.

"It's absolutely crucial, there's just no way to replace the real thing that the officers would have to move through," said Sgt. Roger Pesek with OPPD.

There must also be realistic conditions.

"Historically, active shooter scenarios that have occurred throughout the country, the people who were involved mentioned the chaos," Sgt. Pesek said.

There was plenty of chaos during the practice session. Once the team of officers entered the school they were met with screaming students who directed them to the shooter. Along the way, officers had to deal with several additional elements like smoke alarms and shooting victims.

"They have to be inoculated mentally should one of these events occur," Pesek said.    "Conventional police tactics are to be somewhat slow and methodical, 18.02 in this scenario. They have to keep moving, keep searching, keep moving."

Another thing that makes this type of training different is that these officers have to react once they find the shooter. There's no orders, no negotiation. They must neutralize the situation for one simple reason...to save lives.

Safety is the priority in this training and fake ammunition was used in Tuesday's exercise.Officers check all their real weapons and ammo at the door.

It's a harsh reality, but police in Overland Park are ready if they have to face the challenge. The training will continue for the rest of the week.

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