Police train in Northern Hills to defend schoolsSeveral law enforcement agencies trained at Lead-Deadwood schools in simulated shooter situation.
By: JACI CONRAD PEARSON, Black Hills Pioneer
LEAD (AP) — They used rubber bullets and fictitious scenarios, but the skills developed by more than 25 local law enforcement officers recently at an active shooter training held at Lead-Deadwood High School will be highly invaluable should an actual threat present itself.
It was arranged by Lead-Deadwood School Resource Officer Kip Mau of the Deadwood Police Department, and orchestrated by active shooter trainers Detective Tavis Little of the Lawrence County Sheriff's Office and Detective Darin Pedneau of the Spearfish Police Department.
The training, as described in a story by the Black Hills Pioneer, included representatives from the Lawrence County Sheriff's Office, Deadwood Police Department, Lead Police Department, United States Forest Service and South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks.
"Our goal today is to increase cooperation between multiple agencies to effectively increase the safety in our community by maximizing our manpower," said Little, who along with Pedneau attended a school that trained them in active shooter engagement and conflict resolution. "Very few of our agencies around here are big enough to handle this type of incident (alone), so cooperation is a must in a situation like this."
Deadwood Police Chief Kelly Fuller said throughout the course of the day, officers ran through every type of scenario that could possibly happen and respond with a coordinated response.
"Obviously, with all the school shootings that have happened over the past several years, we're taking the opportunity to come in here for multi-jurisdiction training," Fuller said.
He added that the agencies would use lessons learned from prior incidents including school shootings at Columbine and Sandy Hook and the movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colo.
"We can take those historic incidents and learn from them. This way we have a trained, coordinated response in case this type of incident would happen in our jurisdiction," Fuller said. "Our main goal is to protect that lives of children and teachers, preventing tragedy. Everything we're doing today is for the protection of life safety."
The trainers attempted to make the scenarios posed as realistic as possible.
"We're utilizing air soft guns powered by carbon dioxide," Fuller said. "They shoot rubberized pellets and they sting a little bit if you get hit."
Sgt. Rob Lester of the Deadwood Police Department took a few hits Friday, but the knowledge he took away was quite valuable.
"Even after being in law enforcement this long, it's all new tactics," Lester said. "It takes a whole different mindset to go to an active shooter scene. You have to train yourself to step over victims and absolutely put yourself in harm's way so no innocent children are harmed."
Mau said that this is the second time in the last five years this type of drill was done and was prompted by a request from a local law enforcement agency.
"Chief Wainman called after Sandy Hook and said he added a couple of new officers and that needed to know what the school layout looked like," Mau said. "At the end of the training, we'll have 26 people from different going through the entire school, which is a benefit because this layout is very unique."
Mau added that the training was done with the support of the school board and administration and that school was not in session during the training.
"Any time we have training of this sort to do, they have been willing to let us have the building. The school has been more than supportive," he said.
Bottom line is, should a bona fide active shooter situation present itself in Lawrence County, there are now more than two dozen individuals acquainted with the appropriate procedures to follow.
"I hope they learn a set of skills that is multi-agency shared," Little said. "Through application of these techniques and through dynamic training, they're less overwhelmed and more equipped to deal with the crisis at hand."