TACOMA, Wash. — An old unused elementary school in Pierce County was turned into a training course for the region’s newest officers Thursday afternoon when rookie Tacoma police officers suited up for a drill they hope to never use: the officers had to take down an active shooter at the elementary school.
“They all have a look in their eyes, some of them are wide-eyed, some of them are just excited to get out there,” said Officer Tom Perry, an instructor for the training.
The officers were armed with special, non-lethal rounds. The lights and actors were used to get their adrenaline pumping. Moments later they’re sent into the school not knowing what’s around the corner. They encountered a single male gunman and took him down.
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With the shooter down the priority then turned to the wounded.
“You know a lot of us are parents. I’m a parent myself, so when I come into these schools it really brings it back to you, personally, of what goes on in here,” said Officer Shelbie Boyd.
In many cases, police officers don’t have the luxury of waiting for backup, at least not any more. In a mass shooting, experts will tell you that every second counts, something they tried to drill into these teams today.
“The priority is ending the threat, yes, saving as many lives,” Boyd added.
The hope is that they will never encounter this scenario in the real world, but if they do they’ll know they’ve trained for it.