The city of Fairfield has agreed to purchase a training simulator to help officers make split-second decisions in high-pressure scenarios. Pictured is Fairfield Police Officer Doug Day testing one of the vendors the city considered in April 2017. MICHAEL D. PITMAN/STAFF
Photo: Michael Pitman
Photo: Michael Pitman

How Butler County police agencies train for mass shootings

Sgt. Brian Robinson from the Hamilton Police Department said departments will continue their training in the aftermath of the country’s deadliest attack that killed at least 59 and injured more than 500, making it the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

“Don’t be fooled that you live in a tiny little bubble,” he said. “It’s going to happen. It’s just a matter of when and where. But this will not cause us to change our game plan.”

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Hamilton officers train at least twice a year, in the spring and fall, Robinson said. The four-day training includes how to neutralize an active shooter and relocate citizens to safety, he said.

While there are no buildings in Butler County as tall as The Mandalay Bar Resort and Casino, where the alleged Las Vegas shooter was found on the 32nd floor, Robinson said wherever crowds gather — outdoor festivals, sporting events — there is a potential for an active shooter harming large numbers of a people.

The concert crowd was standing in a wide-open space and there was no easy escape, Las Vegas police have said. Robinson said it was too early to discuss the scenario in Las Vegas, and what lesson law enforcement could learn. But he said it was obvious police were hampered because of the location of the alleged shooter.

“They had no idea where the shooter was coming from,” he said.

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Lt. David Birk from the Middletown Division of Police agreed. He said the shooter was hidden, had an ideal angle and was well-armed with several weapons. He described that scenario as “a nightmare for police.”

Had the shooter been on the ground, police could have reacted more quickly and possibly reduced the number of casualties, Birk said.

In recent years, because of the rise in mass shootings, police have been taught to adjust how they react, Birk said. They used to follow the Quad System: No one responses until four officers are available. But now, Birk said, as soon as an officer arrives, their job is to locate and neutralize the suspect.

“You can no longer wait,” Birk said. “You have to be prepared at all times. I can’t wait for back-up. That’s your mission.”

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