There’s no such thing as too much training.
As the number of mass shootings continues to climb nationwide, law enforcement officers in a post-Columbine culture have been training for active shooter disturbances in their jurisdictions. The Columbine massacre occurred in 1999, when two armed students shot and killed 13 people and wounded 20 others at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo. Since that time, there have been many more school shootings, and law enforcement agencies have stepped up their training to include preparing for such an event.
This month, Warren County sheriff’s deputies participated in MILO Range, a computer-simulated, decision-based training program.
MILO Range operates similarly to an electronic gaming system. A scenario plays out on a life-size screen in a darkened room. Deputies are given limited information and have to decide during each scenario what to do – use a Taser, do nothing, fire a gun, use a baton or use OC spray. The screen reacts to the user’s actions.
If a participant waits one second too long, a shooter may fire on the officer during the training exercise. Some scenarios last several minutes. Others occur in mere seconds, just like real life. Some scenarios present situations that, on the surface, appear to be clear-cut, only for deputies to find out after the scenario has ended that they shot the wrong person or didn’t react quickly enough to avoid becoming a victim themselves.
While it is vital for deputies to train on a gun range with real guns and real bullets to hone their accuracy, the simulated training exercises add another dimension to teaching deputies quick decision-making skills in high-stress situations. Some deputies learn they need to improve their shooting accuracy in those types of situations. Others find they perform well under stress.
In addition to the computer-simulated training, deputies also train using simulated ammunition in the county schools during times students are not in session. During these exercises, deputies arm themselves with simulated ammunition while other deputies strap on helmets and protective eye gear to play the roles of distraught people running from a scene, or bad guys armed with simulated ammunition that – when fired – leaves a plastic-like substance at the point of contact.
This helps each deputy familiarize him or herself with the district’s schools and their layouts. It also adds the human element of surprise because each person participating can create new chaos for responding law enforcement officers.
It is our hope that sheriff’s deputies never have to use active shooter training anywhere in Warren County. But it’s comforting to know they are prepared if the need arises.