Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Media: Police train for active shooters

From Daily Republic (Subscription required)

SUISUN CITY - The recent shootings in Nebraska and Colorado have local police departments reviewing their plans for 'active shooters.'

'Active shooter' is a police term for an armed suspect in the midst of attack. Local police pay attention to news of active shooters and examine how they would respond in similar emergencies.

'We look at our tactics and what we can tweak,' Suisun City police Chief Ed Dadisho said. 'Every scenario has a new twist. We look at what can happen in our city and how we can engage the shooter and mitigate as soon as possible. The bottom line is we don't want more people to get hurt.'

Suisun City police use teams of at least four officers. The responsibility of the first team is to seek out the shooter. Officers may have to pass wounded victims as they approach the perpetrator.

"They make sure they make enough noise,' Dadisho said. 'They want (the shooter) to know that they're coming after him and to stop shooting.'

After the first team enters, other teams follow and tend to the injured, Dadisho added.

Dadisho arranged in 2006 for his officers from his departments and others to take active shooter training. Officers practiced in the vacant Crystal Middle School. Most Suisun City police have had active shooter training, Dadisho said.

Supervisors pass on knowledge to the officers who didn't receive training.

Fairfield police took notice when they heard about the gunman who killed nine in a mall in Omaha, Neb.

The tragedy served as a reminder.

'We have a mall and we want to be prepared for it,' said Lt. Al Bagos, referring to Westfield Solano mall.

That means training, knowing the layout of the mall and brainstorming contingency plans, Bagos said.

In October, Fairfield police had an exercise in the mall where they dealt with an armed suspect.
Police train in a formal setting every two years with follow-up training between those sessions, Bagos said.

Training for active shooters has changed since the 1999 Columbine High School shootings in Colorado, Bagos said.

Before that, only SWAT officers trained for active shooters. But the first police officers at the Columbine massacre were delayed because they were waiting for the SWAT team to arrive, Bagos said.

Since then, agencies have taught all officers active shooter tactics.

Solano County Sheriff's deputies are also trained for active shooters and are ready to provide aid to any agency that needs help, said sheriff's spokeswoman Paula Toynbee.

Reach Audrey Wong at 427-6951 or

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