During the training, Sgt. Leon Champine was the first officer to respond and was able to get the shooter into custody. He then became a very important person for the rest of the scenario.
“You see, since he was there at the beginning, you want to keep him close,” Krieger said. “After SWAT is called, then we put in a call to the PIO and get an incident command post set up.”
The SWAT or ERT (Emergency Response Team) is made up of specially trained officers who train together to become comfortable responding in a stressful situation.
Krieger said setting up a command post is not one of the strong points for the police department.
“This is something that is done very well by the fire department,” he said. “But it helps us to practice. We set it up as close to the scene as we can that is also a safe distance.”
For this drill at PCMS, the command center was set up at Harding Street and Stafford Road, right in front of Maple Hill Cemetery.
A PIO or public information officer works with the officials on duty to communicate with the media.
“Once we have the building cleared, we send in detectives and they sort out the details,” Krieger said. “They then work with the PIO to release the information. This is why the information in the initial press releases can be so vague. Especially if there is a shooting, we would want to notify next-of-kin.
“If there was a hostage situation, we have two officers trained in negations: Carri (Weber) and Jill (Lees).”
Capt. Lees is one of the department’s PIOs.
Krieger said doing a drill like this one can take a lot of time because personnel know it’s a simulation.
“Since people know, it’s hard to get them in high gear,” he said. “It would be nice if only a few people know, but as soon as we pass out the fake guns, they would know. And since we did this year at the school, we had to let a lot of people know.
“So they did know this was just practice. But we still learn a lot of things from an exercise like this.”