Friday, September 28, 2007

Campus police train for shootings with Airsoft Guns

It was 1:30 a.m. and a shot had just been fired somewhere in OSH. Four officers from the U Police Department loaded their firearms and in tight formation, headed down the stairs closest to the auditorium.

Quickly, yet carefully, the officers stepped down the staircase, closely watching for any movement or sound.

They did not know where the shot had been fired, who had fired it, and even worse -- whether the shooter would fire again.

All they knew is that they had to move fast because, more than likely, someone was already dead.

"Let's pluck this chicken," police officer John Thompson said.

Rounding the corner, the officers turned, sped up and headed toward a hallway with half a dozen classrooms on either side.

Suddenly, another shot was fired.

But, this time, it wasn't followed by silence. A man dressed in black walked out of one classroom and carelessly strolled past the officers with a gun in his hand.

The officers ordered the suspect to put his weapon down. The man declined and kept walking, whispering expletives under his breath.

Police tried to disarm the man again, who turned around and pointed his gun directly at them. Officers started firing. During the shoot-out, an officer backed into a door and sent the glass window flying in pieces.

The man fell to the ground.

But, after a short time, he stood up and complimented the officers.

"That was good. I felt like I was really being hunted," said the mock shooter, who was actually Lt. Brent Marchant with the U Police Department.

Police officers trained in OSH on Thursday night, using mock scenarios to train themselves how to respond to a potential campus shooting. Using Airsoft guns and rifles, officers practiced techniques to help them better disable a shooter.

The practice session was held at night after classes had already been dismissed and lasted through the early morning. Staff and faculty in surrounding buildings had been previously warned about the gunshot noise.

Marchant said several additional training sessions will be held in the upcoming year.

Throughout the mock session, police officers were told to keep in mind that a real shooting would be different because the building would probably be packed with students.

"We wanted this session to have a large part of realism and effectiveness," Marchant said. "We wanted training to be without injury, but have the officers face reality."

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