Preparing for the worst: local officers train for school shootings

Preparing for the worst: local officers train for school shootings
UNION GAP, Wash. -- It's a national headline that everyone hopes will never happen here: a school shooting.

Tuesday, dozens of local officers trained in an active shooting scenario at Lasalle High School. Officers were specifically trained how to handle different scenarios, including those that involves hostages or where the shooter is on the loose.

"They don't know what's going to come at them and they have to be prepared for anything that's coming their way,” said Colleen Leonard, who volunteered to assist police by posing as a student in crisis.

In the past, police have been trained to enter a shooting scene with up to 3 other officers for back-up. In these scenarios, they're trained as if they are the only officer on the scene. This type of training is important in Yakima Valley, where many schools are rural.

“Where their backup is 10 or 15 minutes when they respond to an active shooter event and this will allow them the tools to respond,” said Union Gap Interim Police Chief, Greg Cobb.

Officers say teaching an officer how to respond to a shooting independently can save lives off the clock too.

"If an officer pulls up to pick up a child at their school and they hear shots fired, obviously they don't have the ability to communicate with their follow officers that are on duty, so they may be put in a position where they have to act immediately,” Cobb said.

"It would just be terrifying to be in that situation where someone is obviously not mentally stable and has a gun in your school with all of your closest friends,” Colleen said.

Colleen says the officers’ performance help her feel confident that they'd be ready to handle the real thing.

"I think a lot of these guys are prepared for that sort of thing and I would feel safe with any one of them,” Colleen said.

Officers from several local agencies participated in the training.