School Shooter Training Video
With the worst case scenario still on the minds of parents, teachers and law enforcement, Bergen County authorities have prepared a training video for handling “active shooter” situations in schools.
The video, called “Lockdown,” is being offered to districts within the county and, if approved by the state Department of Education, could become a resource for schools across New Jersey, said County Prosecuter John L. Molinelli.
“Active shooter” refers to any situation where one or more armed assailants set out on targeted or random attacks for the purpose of creating mayhem, rather than performing a robbery or holding hostages. December’s horrific shooting in Connecticut is just the most recent example, though production began on “Lockdown” long before Adam Lanza took the lives of 20 children.
“There have been so many, and no two are ever identical,” said Sgt. John LaDuca, an officer with the Bergen County Police Department who has served on the agency’s bomb squad and negotiations team. “There’s always something new about each one, so we just tried to take aspects from each of them and combine them into one.”
He and Lt. Robert Espinosa, who has been involved in training the department’s SWAT team, advised Chase Wilson Productions on the script. They say it culls from real-life scenarios police have dealt with across the country, and includes input from other first responders.
“A lot of these active shooter trainings in the past have focused on just the police response,” Espinosa said. “We wanted to get everything here, all the emergency services, fire, EMS.”
The two said that without proper coordination, police and fire departments can sometimes work at cross-purposes during a chaotic situation, so a lot of attention was paid to what do if, for example, an intruder pulls a fire alarm while students are on lockdown
The 20-minute video, shot about a year and a half ago at New Milford High School, depicts a school district’s worst nightmare: Two armed assailants in tactical gear enter the school with rifles and a home-made bomb, setting off the fire alarm before moving classroom to classroom in a violent rampage.
The scenes unfold from the vantage point of two classrooms, where the teachers react to the situation differently. Later, a narrator compares the two scenarios, explaining where one teacher erred and another responded correctly.
The officers said that the video is also unique in that it takes more into account than just an assailant armed with guns.
“From our experience, what a lot of agencies and institutions focus on is just the shooting aspect, and not so much the improvised explosive devices that are becoming more and more common,” LaDuca said.
Police asked NJ.com not to depict the more graphic scenes in the training, or to describe security protocols in detail. The video will be shown to teachers and staff within the school districts, and a separate video was prepared for law enforcement agencies.
LaDuca and Espinosa said that for years, local agencies in Bergen County have either trained together for how to handle extreme situations like an active shooter scenario, or at least received standardized training. That means that no matter where a situation occurs in the county, the response should be the same.
But throughout the more than 70 school districts countywide, that training has been far less uniform.
“One of the goals that we’re trying to set is getting everybody on the same page,” Espinosa said. “If we get the schools on board, we have the best of both worlds covered.”
Prosecuter Molinelli, whose office paid for the production of the video, told NJ.com that “demand has been high” for both the training and the free security assessments being offered to schools. “Lockdown” is pending approval to be used by the Department of Education as a resource, and the prosecutor said he’s received inquiries from as far away as Kansas City, M.O.
Courtesy of S.P. Sullivan/NJ.com