Law agencies team up for training exercise in Detroit
Detroit — Local, state and federal law enforcement agencies Thursday conducted a training exercise designed to prepare law officials for a myriad of negative situations, including school shootings.
“We’ve had 50 school threats targeting 25 buildings” since the Parkland shooting, Detroit Police Chief James Craig said.
Chief Anthony Holt of the Wayne State University Police Department said the timing of this particular exercise, between final exams last week and before commencement activities next week, allows authorities to minimize distractions to the campus community.
A few people walking west on Warren were turned back before reaching Third. And a few peeked their heads down the street in curiosity. But the morning rain and the distance of the activities from the public’s vantage point kept crowds from forming. Holt offered one passerby directions on how to reach his destination on Woodward Avenue.
Craig said training exercises aren’t a new concept. But the Valentine’s Day school shootings in Parkland, Florida, was part of the impetus of Thursday’s exercise. Though Craig declined to discuss specific goals or tactics, he did mention that how to deal with an active shooter situation is of interest.
How to respond to an on-campus mass shooting has long been a concern at Wayne State, Holt said, dating back to the Virginia Tech mass shooting of April 2007. Wayne State Police provided the cleared-out buildings, along with manpower and K-9 officers for Thursday’s training.
An untold number of volunteers from the public — athletes and fraternity members from the campus among them, Holt said — stepped forward to act as civilians.
Lt. Mike Shaw of the Michigan State Police said the collaboration is essential. While Detroit-area law enforcement has no “turf wars,” the thinking is that the more practice everyone has working together, the better.
Tim Slater, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Detroit office, which organized the exercise, said the training provides “good muscle memory” to participating agencies, allowing them to someday perform as “one united team” if necessary.