Anniston police Officer Cody Scheurich never imagined walking into a school-shooting situation alone, but that’s what he trained for at Randolph Park Elementary School on Friday.
The department held two training sessions this summer in area schools to prepare officers to eliminate an active threat alone instead of waiting for backup.
During their initial police academy training, officers learn to wait for backup before entering an active threat situation, entering in teams of two or more, Anniston officers said Friday.
“That’s very slow and methodical,” Scheurich said. “With this, you go in on your own. I think that’s what we really need now with all the shooters and bombs that officers see every day.”
Sgt. Justin Hartley, supervisor of the training department, said the need for immediate action is growing, causing the department to reevaluate its training techniques.
“There’s a big push nationwide that you don’t wait to go in,” Hartley said. “These are techniques for them to go in and start working on their own before everyone else gets here to help them out and back them up. This is just adding to their toolbox that they already have.”
During the training session, officers learned more efficient ways to clear hallways and classrooms if they are alone, including how to use a door frame as a pivot point for scanning a room quickly.
Hartley said schools are different from other buildings where shootings could occur because of the number of rooms the officers have to clear to find the threat.
“When you have so many classrooms to clear, you have to move as quickly as you can accurately shoot,” Hartley said. “You can’t move too fast or your gun will be swinging around, and you couldn’t hit a target if they stepped out of a door.”
Training also included what officers should do once the threat is eliminated and if another threat appears.
Hartley stressed the importance of communicating with dispatchers and teachers in the classroom once the threat has been eliminated.
“You’re here because something’s going wrong,” Hartley said. “Techniques aren’t going to be perfect because you aren’t going to be in the best tactical situation, but if there’s a threat down there, you’ve got to get to the threat as quickly as possible.”
Officer Shawanette Myers said the training made her more confident in her ability to eliminate a threat, hopefully with fewer people being injured.
“It’s good for the police officers in our community to train in our schools where we would be responding to an active threat,” Myers said.
The officers said the training is essential in other cities, where backup may take longer to respond. Hartley said the Anniston department’s response time is usually less than five minutes.
“Some other cities don’t have what we have here with backup,” Scheurich said. “For them, it could be one man in every time. Don’t wait for backup because backup might not come fast enough.”