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How metro Atlanta police departments train for active shooter situations

Published: May. 26, 2022 at 5:33 PM EDT|Updated: May. 26, 2022 at 6:23 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - The school shooting in Texas that claimed the lives of 21 people is on the minds of many people across metro Atlanta, including police officers.

“It’s very tragic. Many of our officers are actually parents themselves and what we’ve done at the police department is we’ve made sure that training is a priority for us,” said Lt. Abrem Ayana with the Brookhaven Police Department.

Not only does he go through annual active shooter training with his fellow officers, but he teaches civilian response classes. The Brookhaven officers train to respond to an active shooting in any kind of setting from a school to a grocery store.

“Our officers are trained not to wait for backup, not to wait for SWAT, that was a lesson learned after the Columbine incident, we know that we have to get in there quickly and neutralize that shooter,” said Ayana. “All of our officers are trained to immediately respond and seek out that threat; they’ve even been trained to pass individuals who may be injured or mortally wounded for the sole purpose to find that shooter.”

He said going through training with real people playing the roles of victims helps officers understand what it sounds and looks like to have to walk past a victim.

Officers have gear in their cars they can put on if they do respond to an active situation, including ballistic helmets and armored plate carriers. They also carry active shooter kits that include items like splints and tourniquets.

Atlanta Public Schools Police Chief Ronald Applin said his officers also undergo annual training. During the summer, they train in schools to prepare for an active shooter. They stepped up security at graduation ceremonies this week in light of the Texas shooting.

“It’s certainly something we prepare for, we don’t want things like that to happen but it’s something we definitely have to be ready for at the end of the day,” said Applin.

He also said the priority is getting to the person creating the threat.

“Years ago it was set up, a perimeter and call SWAT, but when we think about a person inside of a school with kids who have no way to defend themselves, we have to get to that shooter, we have to get to them,” Applin said.

“We’re teaching people to do this but in reality, you don’t know what’s going to happen at the end of the day. You don’t know what people are going to do when they’re faced with the possibility of being seriously injured or killed,” he said. “I always say, and I try to set an example, if it’s me and I’m by myself, I’m going. At the end of the day, I’m going to make my way inside and I’m going to do everything I can.”