April 19, 2009

DIDN'T THAT USED TO BE CALLED, "SHOOT FIRST AND ASK QUESTIONS LATER"?:

What police learned from Columbine (P. Solomon Banda, 4/19/09, ASSOCIATED PRESS )

After the tragedy, police across the country developed "active-shooter" training. It calls for responding officers to rush toward gunfire and step over bodies and bleeding victims, if necessary, to stop the gunman -- the active shooter -- first.

Sgt. A.J. DeAndrea, a patrol officer in the Denver suburb of Arvada, and now-retired sheriff's Sgt. Grant Whitus, two of the SWAT team members who searched Columbine High that day, now train police with the idea that a gunman, in a mass shooting, kills a person every 15 seconds.

"Based on what we had been through, we had decided that day that we would prepare, and that the lives lost at Columbine were not going to be in vain," said DeAndrea, team leader of the Jefferson County Regional SWAT.

Around the country, police say the strategy has saved lives time and again.

In North Carolina, active-shooter training became part of the state's law enforcement academy curriculum in 2001. Last month, a rampage at a Carthage, N.C., nursing home that killed a nurse and seven helpless patients was cut short when 25-year-old Officer Justin Garner entered the place alone and wounded the gunman with a single shot. Garner had undergone active-shooter training.

"Fifteen years ago, if I heard about what that officer in North Carolina did, I would have said 'What a fool, he violated every procedure that we knew about,'" said Steve Mitchell, program manager with the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies in Fairfax, Va. "It's been a complete turnaround."

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 19, 2009 6:27 AM
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