June 17, 2014 at 11:44 pm

Drills teach metro area police how to respond to school shooting

Mock school shooting training exercises
Mock school shooting training exercises: Wayne County Law Enforcement train at Dickinson School on school shooting scenerios

Livonia— Law enforcement from about 20 jurisdictions convened on a closed high school Tuesday for training on how to respond to a shooting situation within a school setting.

The “active shooter-school setting” training sessions at Dickinson Center on Newburgh were part of a four-day course involving tactics and training for Wayne County law enforcement. The sessions involve lectures as well as drills and are paid for by a $45,000 federal grant administered by the Wayne County Department of Homeland Security.

The goal is to get officers trained in advanced tactics so they can then return to their respective departments and further train other officers. Law enforcement strategies in the past involved officers waiting for specialty-trained SWAT officers to respond, said Capt. Ron Taig, a 26-year veteran of the Livonia Police Department.

Strategies have changed over the years, he said, with the concentration shifting to quicker direct actions by local police and deputies.

“We want to make sure our patrol officers are given the equipment and the training,” Taig said. “In this day and age, every second counts.”

On Dec. 14, 2012, in Newtown, Conn., 20-year-old Adam Lanza fatally shot 20 school children and six adult staff members. More than 70 other school shootings have been reported nationwide since then, including a June 5 shooting at Seattle Pacific University in Seattle where a 26-year-old man killed one and wounded two others before being tackled by a student security guard.

The training is critical, said Timothy McGillivary, director of the Wayne County Department of Homeland Security. His department deals with low-frequency but potentially highly destructive events, and the more local officers who can be prepared, the better, he said.

“School safety is a priority and we are ever seeking different ways to work with the school districts,” McGillivary said. “God willing, this training will never be utilized.”

The drills Tuesday involved an officer acting as a gunman shooting projectiles from real, but modified firearms. Others played victims and others formed a team aimed at hunting down the “gunman” and helping those acting as wounded

“This is as real as we can truly get without shooting real bullets,” Taig said.

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Law enforcement from about 20 jurisdictions convened at a closed high school here Tuesday for training on how to respond to a shooting situation within a school setting at Dickinson School in Livonia. / Daniel Mears / The Detroit News