FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (Dec. 17, 2015) -- The scene plays out like a cop drama on television.
A bad guy with a gun to the head of a hostage stares down three police officers, who are approaching through the office space. The shooter raises his gun toward the officers before taking a few shots to the head and chest.
The officers clear the room and remove the hostage from the scene.
When the training scenario is complete, the players remove their protective gear and huddle to discuss the situation to see what went well and what could have been done better.
This hostage scenario was just one of the many that 25 Army, Marine Corps and Department of the Army police officers and instructors on Fort Leonard Wood faced during a multi-service, week-long training course offered by the Department of Justice and Texas State University at the Military Police Training Division Law Enforcement Academy, Dec. 7-11.
Following recent active-shooter events in San Bernardino, California, and Paris, Sgt. 1st Class James Garner, 14th Military Police Brigade Basic Military Police Training Division instructor, wanted to see if there was something the 14th Military Police Brigade could do to train the military police on Fort Leonard Wood with the most up-to-date tactics to handle those situations.
"Sadly, this type of incident is becoming more and more prevalent," Garner said.
That's when he found the program that Texas State University and the Department of Justice teach - Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training, or ALERRT.
"This type of training is definitely needed because of the current climate we are in right now, obviously with terrorism, school shootings, business place shootings," said Armando Ramirez, instructor for the ALERRT center.
Ramirez and his team of instructors from the FBI and Texas law enforcement agencies provided a five-day active-shooter instructor course that covers safety, the training methodology, current tactics, scene management and how to manage a violent incident.
"The priority is to save as many lives as we can," Ramirez said. "We can't save everybody, but if we can do something to save more lives by implementing this type of training, that is a successful training."
At the end of the five days, participants were certified as ALERRT instructors, who can now pass on their newly gained knowledge to their students.
"Our idea here is to provide and deliver good active-shooter training and add to what they already do," Ramirez said. "If we can add a component or two to what they already do, that is good for everybody."
Marine Corps Sgt. Phillip Maheux, instructor with the Military Police Training Division Law Enforcement Academy here, was one of the participants who said he would be adding some of the tactics and procedures learned in this course to the next class he teaches.
"I'm taking away the command element stuff, what to do once an engagement has happened," Maheux said. "I definitely want them to know more about what to do once the shooter is neutralized, because that doesn't end the scene. There is always either follow-on shooters or just vetting out the bystanders."
Participants in the training, like Garner and Maheux, agreed with the assessment that active-shooter response is the next big issue for law enforcement, and this training can make the difference.
"With the environment that we have now, with terrorism and just violence across the United States, the military and local law enforcement have to be as trained as possible, because it's not going to get any better. It's probably going to get worse," Ramirez said. "We need to have the best trained officers and military professionals to stop the violence, stop the killing and save as many lives as we can."
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