Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Law enforcement officers train at Grossmont College

Law enforcement officers in training at Grossmont College

Sheriff’s deputies and officers from other law enforcement agencies around San Diego County practiced at Grossmont College on Tuesday what they would do in the event of an emergency situation on the campus.
As news media and college officials watched, the deputies practiced what they would do in an active shooter situation, how they would respond if students were taken hostage, and what measures they would take if an officer were wounded and on the ground.

The three scenarios unfolded one right after another, simulating the confusion and tumult that might occur if the horrible situations had been real.  Grossmont College students had been alerted in advance to not be alarmed by the law enforcement drill, and also to keep their distance so as not to interfere with it.  In the simulation, teenagers from the sheriff’s Explorer’s unit played the role of frightened students who suddenly were confronted by a gunman in their classroom.

The drills began shortly after 2 p.m. when a deputy involved in the scenario began firing blank rounds from a mock firearm.  Alerted to the gunman’s whereabouts, a team of deputies in protective formation advanced toward the gunman, who fled. The deputies followed and confronted him.
Explaining the drill, Melissa Aquino of the Sheriff’s Public Affairs unit said, the teams will be “practicing how they would track down a gunman. After neutralizing the threat, deputies will check the classrooms and proceed with evacuation procedures.”

Aquino added: “An active shooter by definition is someone who displays the ability and willingness to shoot people indiscriminately without regard to his or her safety. It’s a scenario that
no one wants to think about, but law enforcement is ready to respond in the event a real emergency occurs.   The goal is to practice positions in entering and clearing a room, communication via radio or hand signals, locating and removing victims, providing security for paramedics, finding evacuation routes, establishing a rescue plan and what to do when a team member is down.”

Unit after unit of sheriff’s deputies, El Cajon police officers, and California Highway Patrol officers ran through the scenario, one after another, in the exercise that had been scheduled from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Tuesday, and will be repeated during the same hours on Thursday.  Evaluators took notes, and gave feedback to the various teams.

Among the college officials monitoring the exercise were Chancellor Cindy Miles of the two-college Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District and Grossmont College President Sunita V. Cooke, as well as Dean Agustin Albarran, whose division includes English and the Social and Behavioral Sciences. 

Albarran said that the drill was useful to Grossmont College because it familiarized law enforcement officers with the campus, while giving college officials some experience in what to expect had this been a real emergency.

During the current summer session, 3,747 students attend Grossmont College, of whom 1,602 were enrolled in classes meeting on a Tuesday and Thursday schedule.   There were 163 students whose classes ended in the building block minutes before the hostage-taker scenario unfolded.