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Police Training: Active Shooter Scenarios

Becoming a police officer requires putting your life on the line to protect the public. One of the most dangerous situations is responding to an active shooter. In most police departments, these high-stakes situations will require the support of the SWAT team. But in reality the first responders are regular patrol officers. Here are some examples of active shooter scenarios that you can expect to be covered during your time at the police academy.

  1. Immediate Confrontation

The shooting suspect is active and has fired a shot within the last 30 seconds. The responders (contact team) are briefed that there are two dead and three wounded. The team will be given direction on how to advance, whether there are rooms to clear or whether to proceed directly to the suspect. The contact team moves towards the last known location of the suspect. As the contact team approaches, the shooter emerges from a room and must be put down.

  1. Suicidal Shooter 

The contact team is briefed on a report of an upset individual in a populated area such as school, business, or community event. The brief does not include whether shots have been fired or if there are any victims. As the contact team advances, they encounter witnesses that try to dissuade the police from advancing on the upset individual due to their personal relationship with the suspect. They will make rationalizations like “They got a bad grade” or “They had a silly argument with a coworker”. These witnesses refuse to leave the area and the suspect emerges from a room with a weapon, further away from the group. The contact team must decide whether to negotiate with the gunman or employ deadly force. It is important that the contact team pay attention to details in order to explain their decision, as this will justify either outcome.

 Room Clearing

In the room clearing scenario, contact with the shooter has been lost and his current location is unknown. The contact team must begin to clear rooms in a safe, orderly manner. In the process of going through each room, the shooter will be discovered and must be engaged by the contact team. In some cases, the shooter will have created a barricade to protect himself. The most important aspect of this training scenario is to proceed without rushing or recklessness. The police academy instructors will use many versions of this exercise as it is one of the most common active shooter scenarios.

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