CHESTERFIELD, Mo. – Local police departments are in constant training for active shooter situations, such as the tragedies that happened over the weekend in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio.
The St. Louis County Police Department’s Tactical Operations Unit has trained approximately 2,000 patrol officers and 1,000 firefighters around the St. Louis-area on what to do when they first arrive at an active shooter scene. It’s a three-month training operation that puts them through a full-scale scenario that is realistic, with the use of airsoft projectile weapons that fire plastic BBs.
Before SWAT arrives at any active shooter incident, local police and firefighters are first on the scene.
"Every time we give someone a projectile weapon, they train a lot harder and they get a little bit more nervous and we want them to make decisions under pressure instead of just going through the motions and is acting like someone is armed,” said Sgt. Shawn McGuire, St. Louis County Police Department. “We actually arm them with something. You know it’s a projectile weapon and it hurts if you get shot with it.”
And what should civilians be aware of before they enter a public place that could be a target of an active shooter?
“And the more I always tell people, if you’re in a grocery store, in a church, start looking at different exits, emergency exits, regular exits. Start looking around for different hiding places. Think outside the box when you take a tour of these places and these are everyday places where these things are happening,” McGuire said.
The St. Louis County Police Tactical Operations Unit is comprised of 22 officers. Sgt. McGuire said they’re constantly updating their tactics and communicate with other law enforcement agencies around the country who have gone through active shooter situations to learn from them about their operations.