By Mr. Robert H Mcelroy (IMCOM)August 2, 2010
BRUSSELS, Belgium - U.S. Army Garrison Brussels Military Police Soldiers conducted Active Shooter training on July 26 at Sterrebeek Annex near here.
The training was designed to give the MPs the skills they need when they respond to a situation where someone is shooting people, also known as an active shooter scenario.
The MPs practiced weapons handling techniques with pistols and rifles, proper methods for disarming a suspect by themselves and moving quickly through doors, hallways and into rooms.
Sgt. Jeremiah D. Sutton, who taught the class, said the training reflects a new role for law enforcement professionals.
"The traditional response was that law enforcement showed up and waited outside for SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics team) to arrive while people inside died, like at Columbine," he said.
On April 20, 1999 at Columbine, Colo. High School, two students entered the school and killed 12 students and one teacher. They also wounded 21 students.
USAG Brussels Director of Emergency Services Rik Bertrand said that the Columbine after action review recommended a more-active approach by the first police who respond in order to save lives.
Bertrand said that Active Shooter training is an Army requirement as well and is part of Antiterrorism and Force Protection Level I training.
The Nov. 5, 2009 shootings at Fort Hood, Texas reinforced the need for active response to shooters, Bertrand said.
"The suspect doesn't care if he dies," Bertrand said. "That is the greatest threat. Especially after Fort Hood, similar response plans have been adopted nationally."
Sutton said the new philosophy is for police to enter a building when they arrive, locate the shooter and neutralize him.
"The responding officer can decide to go in, head toward the threat and take it out," he said.
Sutton that officers have to prepare themselves to do something they don't normally do: enter a scene alone and disregard everything in their path, including their own safety, as they move toward the threat.
"You have to prepare yourself mentally to go in alone, to bypass people who are hurt, to whom you could render aid and go to the shooter," he said.
Sutton said that as they move through a building the MPs should gather information from victims they encounter.
"Use the people who are there to gather intelligence on the bad guys, 'How many are there'' 'Where are they''," he said.
The training also covered proper techniques for moving through a building with a partner.
"Stay two to three feet off of the walls, especially while you're moving down hallways," Sutton said. "Call out your danger zones to your partner, keep talking to each other. Keep scanning and moving. Move only as fast as you can shoot."
One of the MPs who participated in the training, Spc. Bradley Emerson said he enjoyed it.
"It was a nice change of pace, it was fun," Emerson said. "Any training is fun. I've never done anything like this."
Bertrand said that the training is important for the MPs who work in the garrison for another reason. Many have combat experience in Iraq or Afghanistan but not as a garrison MP where more typical law-enforcement skills are needed.
"A lot of these guys get combat training but not this type of training," Bertrand said. "It's important we get these guys garrison law-enforcement training."
The goal, he said, is to give them the knowledge and skills they need to respond effectively and save lives.