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Local law officers train for active shooter response

165 officers from nine law enforcement agencies take part


Mass shootings. Tragedies that occur all too often, in a Colorado movie theater, a Connecticut elementary school and as close to home as a Clackamas shopping mall.

by: RAY HUGHEY - Canby Police Chief Bret Smith, at right, and Molalla Police Sgt. Chris Long advance up a staircase during the active shooter response training this month.It’s something law officers hope never happens, but if it does, they must be prepared to deal with it.

And additional officers trained for that situation recently for more than two weeks through the interagency active shooter response training conducted in Canby and Oregon City.

About 165 area law enforcement officers went through the Clackamas County Criminal Justice Training Council program.

Nine agencies were represented — Oregon State Police, the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office and police departments from Canby, Oregon City, Milwaukie, Gladstone, Molalla, West Linn and Sandy.

by: RAY HUGHEY - Molalla Police Sgt. Gordon White advances up a staircase during the interagency active shooter response training.Response to an active-shooter situation has changed greatly since the 1999 Columbine High School massacre, said Canby Police Sgt. Doug Kitzmiller, training officer for his department and the interagency workshop.

Before Columbine, police would lock down the shooting site and call in special units, he said. But that gave the shooter more time to harm more people.

Now small teams of officers go in as quickly as possible to hunt the shooter down and stop further violence.

The new training quickly puts small teams of trained officers into quick action, using adaptation of tested military tactics.

They hug the walls, leapfrogging each other as they advance on the shooter. They move in fluid crisp efficiency, working overlapping zones.

Joint training allows officers from different agencies to all get on the same page as far as tactics, Kitzmiller said. They follow the same procedures, use the same language.

Last summer, 30 officers went through a program to learn now to train fellow officers. Twenty-seven of them were trainers for this summer’s program.

The training is geared toward the worst-case scenario, not just what is likely to happen, Kitzmiller said.

Officers might find they are dealing with multiple shooters or well-armed adult shooters with advanced training instead of a teenager with a stolen gun.

Perhaps the most dangerous part: entering a room where the shooter is harming people.

“We’ve got to go in there and stop them,” Kitzmiller said. “Time is not on our side, and it needs to be done.”




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