Officers stood outside a building at Fort McClellan on Thursday, waiting for the tactical teams, negotiators, perimeter and quick actions teams to arrive.
Dozens of officers poured into the scene, immediately assessing the active-shooter training scenario and planning what their next moves would be.
The scenario was one of three designed by Anniston police Sgt. Donny Smith.
“The one they’re running now is basically an office romance gone bad,” Smith said. The officers also covered two other scenarios, one designed after the Parkland, Florida, school shooting and the other a 16-year-old female active-shooter situation.
“I wanted to put something in there that they don’t see,” Smith said, regarding the female shooter. “I want to get inside their heads.”
Approximately 45 officers and deputies from Anniston, Oxford and the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office participated in the training at Xtreme Concepts Training Facility. The three scenarios trained the officers on how to deal with an active shooter, hostage rescue and barricaded suspects.
“It’s a multi-agency training day,” said Oxford police Chief Bill Partridge. “It’s just making sure that our teams are working well together.”
Two FBI agents and team leaders from each of the agencies assessed the officers and deputies throughout the day, later notifying the chiefs and sheriff on what their team needs to work on.
Calhoun County Sheriff Matthew Wade and Anniston police Chief Shane Denham both described actual situations where the different agencies had to work together, something that pushed them to organize the training.
“A good example is February 15, 2017,” said Sheriff Matthew Wade. “A man shot at six of our deputies 42 times. That night we had multiple agencies come to work with us and help us.”
Wade said he hopes they don’t ever have to put the training into use, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
“Waiting until there is an emergency is too late,” he said. Wade said having the three units come together and work as one team is a big benefit.
“It wouldn’t take much if you had an active shooter,” Wade said. “It would be more than just what we could do by ourselves. If we had one large building, such as a school, you have a tactical team of 15 or 20 people, that’s not enough. We need more than one team.”
The training was intended to help the teams become acquainted better with each other.
“It’s a chance to get the guys together and make sure their equipment meshes together,” Denham said. “Most of them know each other, but there’s probably some out there that have never met.”
In high-stress situations, such as active shooter, Denham, Partridge and Wade all said it’s important for the officer to have an idea of how the officers from different agencies with react.
“If you’re fixing to walk through the door with a man with a gun, part of that is being comfortable with them,” Partridge said.
“A lot of it is trust,” Wade said.
The three agencies started planning the active-shooter training nearly a year ago.
“We all do training individually,” said Denham, “but this is the first time we’ve all came together in a training scenario.”
Smith, the man behind the scenarios, said the agencies trained together last year, but several other agencies from across the state also participated in the training.
“We did a big training last year, but this year I wanted it to just be us,” Smith said. “Because if anything goes on in Calhoun County, you’re looking at the three teams that’s going to be handling this stuff.”