OPD Recruits Train For School Shooting Scenario

By: Jacki Ochoa Email
By: Jacki Ochoa Email

They are images and sounds many of us will never be forced to deal with, someone opening fire inside a school. A training session was held Thursday for Omaha police recruits.

This active shooter training was scheduled last month, long before the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut. After the drills were over, a sergeant said that it was a "sad irony."

It wasn't a real intruder inside an empty Pine Creek Elementary School in Bennington and they weren't real victims crying out for help. “We are preparing, we are training, we hope that we never have to use this training,” said recruit academy Sgt. Jacob Ritonya. “What you see here is the latest iteration for the training."

Sixteen Omaha police recruits practiced high risk tactics. “Some of our scenarios are modeled after real life events, but we always want to keep our recruits and our officers thinking ahead, thinking outside the box of things that could occur."

Because unlike what happens during training, the first responders won't arrive at the scene within seconds of shots being fired. “What I can tell you is that from the moment we get on scene, first and foremost priority is to get in to stop any violence that is taking place,” said Sgt. Ritonya. “So from that standpoint it is very realistic."

Whether it's one officer, two or three, they must rush in. “As long as there continues to be victims, obviously that's first and foremost. We want to stop that action from occurring."

If the drills don't look uniform it’s because they aren't supposed to be. Their training mimics natural instincts. “We could have them and train them for hours and hours and hours holding a certain formation, but the reality of it is, when the chaos starts, more than likely they aren't going to be able to maintain that."

All recruits and OPD officers go through the training. Being ready for a scenario similar to the one played out Thursday requires much more than participating in drills. We are told officers are also equipped with entry tools and can become certified for a patrol rifle.

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