By Mr. Richard L Rzepka (USAG Okinawa)February 3, 2016
TORII STATION, Okinawa -- Soldiers from the 247th Military Police Detachment conducted active shooter reaction training Feb. 1 at the Torii Station Library where they performed individual and collective tasks to pacify the notional assailant.
The training was held to improve Soldier competency and confidence in dealing with an active shooter, while honing law-enforcement skills like apprehending a suspect, conducting searches, protecting a crime scene and engaging targets.
"It is vital to exercise, reshape and condition our procedures constantly," said Sgt. 1st Class Mark Davis, Provost Sergeant. "The first casualty of war is the plan and throwing different scenarios at our patrols and our first responders will provide them with the ability to adapt to any situation," he said.
It's the last call that anyone wants to get. Shots fired, a gunman stalking the workplace. Panic.
The FBI defines an active shooter as "An individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area."
An average of 11.4 active shooter incidents took place from 2000 through 2013 totaling 160 incidents, in which 1,043 people were killed or wounded according to the bureau, whose data shows that the frequency of active shooters is increasing.
Newtown, Conn., Aurora, Colo., and Fort Hood, Texas are just some of the places that are engrained upon the national consciousness as a result of this very deadly, very possible scourge and they serve as a reminder of the importance of training and exercises -- not only for law enforcement but for citizens.
"The common slogan still remains the default plan of action for everyone during an active shooter incident," said Sgt. Terrence Young, Military Police Investigator. "If there is a safe path available, run … If you can't get out safely, hide. As a last resort, fight," he said.
The best way to assist the first responders is to provide as much information about the shooter as possible as you exiting the area, said Young, who emphasized, "Don't be a hero."
For the MPs at Torii Station, preserving life and containing the situation is the ultimate goal.
"If we don't rehearse our plans, how would we ever know how effective they are," asked Davis? "What is good for Fort Hood will not necessarily mean it's good for Torii Station. We must craft our emergency response to the environment we are in. That is why it's important to train," he said.
The takeaway for the MP Soldiers is gaining a better understanding of the various ways to approach any given situation while realizing that there is no one way to handle the response.
"The plan continuously changes, which requires us to have the flexibility to adapt and make split second decisions on the fly," said Staff Sgt. John Cunningham, Provost Marshal Operations.