Southern Illinois officers learn new response tactics

Thirteen law enforcement agencies practice new response tactics.
Thirteen law enforcement agencies practice new response tactics.

By Julia Bruck - email

An armed shooter opens fire into a school. Minute's later police respond.  This is just one of the many situations several southern Illinois law enforcement officers will face this week.
It's part of national training program, which was born after many tears.
Students rush from Columbine High School after two fire gunshots more than 10 years ago.
"During that time we were not prepared to respond to an active shooter. So out of that event grew this program," Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Instructor Tracy Weems said.
Weems says at the time officers typically waited for SWAT to arrive.  Weems says not anymore, as officers learn new tactics.
In this week-long course, officers will use a type of gun similar to a semi automatic but this one is filled with plastic soap bullets.
"We can tell where the officers are hitting the target and it helps them on hitting the target," Weems said.
Once home to an SIU fraternity, the building is now a stage to officers from 13 law enforcement agencies to practice tactics.  Inside they learn how to take down an active shooter, but due to sensitive police information our cameras were not allowed inside.
"Once the enemy knows our tactics they can use it against us," Weems said.
They are tactics, which could be used in a situation like the Virginia Tech shooting.  Weems says in such a case, several agencies would respond, but may have never worked together. 
But he says this program allows law enforcement officers to learn the same tactics and improve current skills, lessons that more than a dozen officers will soon take back and teach to their own departments.
"Our goal is not necessarily to save everyone because that is a possibility. But it is to save as many lives as possible with an aggressive intervention," Weems added.
So far nearly 20,000 officers nationwide have taken part in the Texas based course.

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