KOLD News 13 Reporter Som Lisaius
This is only a drill. But the idea is to make it as intense and pressure packed as a real-life, hostage situation. Ever since the Columbine killings of 1999, Tucson Police Chief Richard Miranda changed the way his officers handled active shooter situations. Rather than securing the area, locking down the building and calling in backup - first responding officers became the aggressors.
Today, I got the chance to do just that during an interactive drill at a vacant elementary school on Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. Along with four newly sworn-in officers with Tucson Police, I got a taste of what it's like to respond to an active shooter situation: one officer's down and at least two suspects are on a bloody rampage inside the school.
"It's going to be the first responder that's gonna come to the school or the mall should this every happen," says Tucson Police Lt. Quinn McCarthy, one of the officers in charge of Thursday's drill. "It's something we hope no officer ever has to do but we have to put them through it frequently so it's not a surprise to them should they have to go into it."
After eliminating one of the threats--and helping secure the other--the scenario is over. An eye opening two minutes to say the least. Even though it's an exercise, it's extremely intense. The screaming, the explosions, the adrenaline. Again, the objective is to prepare these officers for a worst-case scenario. Next time, there probably won't be a drill instructor yelling in their ear. But hopefully everything they learned will still be there.
"We're trying to imprint that on them," says Lt. McCarthy. "That if this happens in reality, they've got some basis for it. They can get through it and they will bring it to a successful conclusion for them."