“Officers are supposed to respond off the street with the gear they have in their patrol vehicles,” said Jessey Hiebert, assistant police chief at Hillsboro and president of MCPA.
“They go in and engage the shooter––basically terminating the threat as soon as possible without any more loss of life to the students in the room and without themselves getting hurt,” he said.
The training involved officers from the Kansas Highway Patrol, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, and the local police departments from Peabody, Goessel, Hillsboro and Marion. Marion students also participated in the event.
Hiebert said the training was important in three ways.
First, rural areas tend to handle violent situations in a more chaotic manner than urban officers.
“They’re actually starting to think that rural areas cause more havoc than urban areas simply for the fact that you think you’re safe in the rural areas and when something happens in a rural area, everyone freaks out because they aren’t accustomed to that type of violence,” Hiebert said.
The training then gives officers a chance to understand how they would react to an actual emergency.
“A main thing is knowing how you will react and respond when that type of call comes,” he said.
“Generally speaking, when you get a call of an active shooter and kids killed in a school, we have no clue how your body is going to react physically and mentally.
“And when we do a dry run, for one, you know what you’re going to do, and you know what those around you are going to do. So, the more we can practice for disaster, when disaster hits, we’re more or less used to what type of response we’re going to have.”
Through the mock incident, officers are also able to learn the layout of different schools, Hiebert said.
“The process is the same. The only difference is a different school, different surroundings that officers aren’t aware of,” he said.
“We’ve all done walk-throughs of the schools, but that’s a lot different than when you’ve got people in there screaming and you’ve got gunfire and you tend to forget your surroundings.”
For Saturday’s event, officers engaged each other using air-soft weapons, which are exact replicas of actual firearms. The air-soft weapons propel a 6 mm, 0.2 gram beebee at 360 feet per second, according to Hiebert.
“We were actually engaging bad guys, and officers were getting shot at—and it hurts,” he said. “It peels the skin right off your body.
“We like to reinforce training with pain if you make a mistake,” he added. “If you poke your head around a corner you shouldn’t have and get shot, you tend to remember that.
“And in a real-life situation you won’t be missing your head.”“Active Shooter” training