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Police Train at UMD for Active Shooter Scenario

Updated: 06/09/2014 11:10 PM
Created: 06/09/2014 5:30 PM WDIO.com
By: Travis Dill
tdill@wdio.com

UMD is becoming a police training ground this week as a handful of law enforcement personnel learn skills to quickly contain active shooter situations.

Officers armed with mock pistols barged through training bags held by fellow trainees to simulate thousands of students who would be fleeing and grasping for help during a shooting.

Officer Jake Willis of the UMD Police Department led the training. He said in those situations officers can only help victims by ignoring them.

“When you move into the chaos, the training is to move past all those people, as much as police officers we want to help, we need to stop the person who's killing,” Willis said.

UMDPD sent Willis to federal active shooter training, and he wanted to pass that on to regional officers. Willis said his training included actors and blank gunshots, and he will add that to the course at UMD later this week in a closed building.

“They're screaming and yelling and running into you, and they're using gunshots as blanks and it's overwhelming. It's absolutely true that you resort to your training,” Willis said.

He said that training helped a fellow officer in March when someone carried a realistically modeled Airsoft gun onto campus.

“From the time the call was dispatched to the time the officer located those suspects was two and a half minutes. That's what we're training for is speed in response and getting there right now to keep it from spinning out of control,” Willis said.

He said the sensory jarring experience leaves officers with more confidence, and that confidence leads to life-saving speed. The officers hope the situation never arises, but they will be prepared if it does.

This is the first round of training at UMD after a year of planning, but more is scheduled later this summer. UMD Police said there is still room for regional officers to sign up for future training sessions.

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