Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Active Shooter Training

Public Safety
August 5, 2015
By: Jennifer Harris

One month ago, Public Safety department graciously shared with us that we shall be seeing a new kind of training being conducted on the Main campus. Lieutenant Locklair, 3rd in Command hinted, that all officers will be expected to step up their vigilance and skills techniques (TT / Yellow Zone interview).
Naturally, no detailed descriptions of what will take place was leaked. That is, until the fateful email showed up in the student account stating ‘Active Shooter Training’ on Main campus. Trident Times leaped at the opportunity to find out what it all meant and, of course, we got ourselves invited. Since there’s no way we would ever leave you in the dark, here’s what we did to get you the breaking news.
Sunday, August 2, 2015:
I arrived as planned at Main Campus, Building 910 at 12:30pm. I was armed with a notepad in my hand, my camera and ID badge hanging around my neck.  I wore a pair of old faded blue jeans and a red t-shirt that clearly read Society of Broadcasters (so everyone knew I was a friend). The smell of rain was in the air.  As I pulled into the parking lot, I could see a few white vans and other vehicles were already parked, so I parked my scooter between two cars and dismounted. That’s when the rain started drizzling. I had no idea what to expect but, as I approached the walkway I noticed an official sign was blocking the main entrance. It read ‘Police Training in Progress’.
I reached the door but before I could touch the handles, it swung open. That’s when I saw two Officers in black uniforms, Captain McFadden and Officer Manchester. It looked like they had seen me a long time before I even saw them. Manchester was my liaison so I went to him after greeting the Captain. In the meantime, more and more officers were coming through the doors heavily armed.
They explained that the exercises being conducted on campus were based on the Federal Law Enforcement training, which Manchester himself received in Georgia. “Each officer”, I was told, “will be given the same scenario. An active shooter has entered Building 910 and your job is to remove the perpetrator and secure the entire two story building”. The officers would be armed with a .40 caliber gun, a patrol rifle, magazines, Go-bag (that has a long knife, flares, tourniquet, flex-cuff and more). All radios have been re-programmed to communicate with the local North Charleston police stations. Officer Manchester pointed to the control room behind him and said, “We’ve been doing this for the past two weekends. Every drill starts around 7:00am. I’m about to run another drill and you’re welcome to stay and take some pictures”. This I had to see.
Officer Manchester took the lead and prepared to gather the team.
Control room:
I could see that altogether there were nine officers (6 males, 3 females) and a table neatly arrayed with many different types of security gear including long gun patrol rifles. Before he prepared them for the task, they first had to double check to ensure that their guns were properly holstered since rifles were about to be used. The room began to fill with the choreographed sounds of weapons being drawn, cocked and released, with voices saying, “All clear”.  I sat in the back scribbling away. After he completed his brief, he took two officers to the side. He had special jobs for them; one was the shooter and the other was a hostage. He looked at me and said, “We’re headed to the 2nd floor. You can come if you like”. Needless to say…
Second Floor:
We twisted and turned through the hallway before we got to the farthest back room. Manchester took position in the center. He faced the ‘shooter’ and the ‘hostage’ and gave them final instructions then, he placed a bomb (dud) strategically by the door and spread a lot of empty case shells throughout the passage and the ‘hostage’ room. He left the two officers and headed back to Control; I was with him all the while.
He selected one officer and told the others they were ‘dead’. He took that one officer outside the building where a police car was parked some yards away.
Then the radio resonated, “Active shooter! Active shooter! Building 910. Approach with caution! Active shooter!”
Flashing blue lights.  Officer Linda Luck exited the car and proceeded to the trunk. She withdrew a long rifle and a Go-bag which she draped over her shoulder and tucked behind her back. She positioned her rifle in her shoulder and with her eyes glued to the building, she stealthily approached a side door. I tucked myself behind the garbage bin, pointed my camera and…click, click. I followed her into the building and we were both already sweating. The search that ensued was tense and thorough and culminated with an actual combatant confrontation with the ‘perpetrator’ on the upper floor.
I was either crouched low to the ground or braced hard against the wall and I could see how serious and real this had all become. I was in the middle of a real life or death scenario with one of our Public Safety officers and there was only one way we were getting out. Alive.
Staying in the Action:
Safety is the number one priority when it comes to survival. We must ‘survive’ in our plans to ‘thrive’ in life. The four people who ‘died’ that day had left the ‘front’ door unlocked making it easy for anyone to walk in off the streets and make them sitting ducks. The tendency of people bent on doing harm willfully is to go from door to door checking to see which one will open easily. All they want to do is create havoc. Some have a plan and some do not. Some go by the numbers, telling themselves, “Since I’ve already killed 4, I’m not stopping. You will have to shoot me”.
A locked door can act as a big deterrent. Remember, a locked door does not put us in a prison but it may save us from a tomb. We should never think that we are being overly cautious when we take steps to ensure our protection. Officer Manchester reiterated what Lieutenant Locklair had said before,
“If you hear a commotion, turn off the lights and move AWAY from the windows”.
Sometimes, we may have a natural curiosity for things morbid but, why draw attention to yourself and possibly endanger others? We do not need a GPA of 4.0 to understand that we must stay in the action to come out the winner.


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