A look inside sniper training at downtown Omaha ballpark

Police snipers from across the country are in Omaha this week for training
Police training is all about recreating real-world scenarios and sometimes learning skills you hope you never really have to use.
Published: Jul. 27, 2022 at 5:57 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Anyone around the downtown ballpark Wednesday afternoon may have heard gunfire — lots of it. There’s no need to worry, though; it was all part of a training exercise.

Police snipers from across the country are in Omaha this week for training. Eight snipers from the Omaha Police Department are training alongside law enforcement from departments in Oklahoma, Kansas, Wyoming, and Iowa, among others.

After hours of classroom work, the officers put those skills into practice in the field — in this case, a baseball field, definitely not your typical gun range.

“This is invaluable,” OPD Lt. Neal Bonacci said. “We spend so much time in this venue, and get the looks in a static environment to build confidence and inoculate our officers to be able to take that shot if — God forbid — they ever have to.”

While Omaha snipers make the stadium their work-home every year during the College World Series, this is the first time they’ve done this sort of activity inside the ballpark.

For anyone around the downtown ballpark Wednesday afternoon you may have heard gunfire, lots of it. No need to worry.

Precision shooting is just part of the equation. After all, SWAT members have layers of protections built into the job: They spend time on reconnaissance as overwatch, learning best practices when it comes to defending large public spaces. They learn what and who to watch for as crowds gather, whether it’s at the ballpark or a concert or festival, and understand methods bad actors in other cities may have tried.

In fact, the day before this group trained inside the Baxter Arena on UNO’s campus. The scenario: Someone spotted a suspicious package; the teams role-played how to react.

“I cannot quantify how important this is for the individual officers who deploy here to the CW every year to actually do what they have to unfortunately do,” said Mark Lang, a retired Dallas SWAT officer with TacFlow Academy. “No bones about it: There’s a criminal element out there that wants to hurt good people.”

The bottom line: The training helps with muscle memory for the snipers to react fast if their skills are even needed in the real world.

Other emergency training

The training at Charles Schwab Field wasn’t the only emergency event training happening in the Omaha-metro on Wednesday. Offutt Air Force Base was conducting an active-shooter training exercise Wednesday. Residents were warned of increased noise and emergency response activity including simulated gunfire, sirens, messages from loudspeakers, and presence of emergency vehicles. Residents were also advised that the training could impact bus access and traffic, causing delays.

Digital Director Gina Dvorak contribute to this report.

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