Base trains for mass shootings

Wright-Patterson made a few ‘tweaks’ but did not raise security level.

After the news of Monday’s shootings, which resulted in the deaths of 13 people, Wright-Patterson made “a few tweaks” to security and some base offices had renewed training on what to do in case of an active shooter situation, said Col. Cassie B. Barlow, base commander and leader of the 88th Air Base Wing.

Still, the base’s force protection security level remained at Alpha, the lowest on a security protection scale. The colonel declined to comment on what additional measures were taken but said the military installation takes security “very seriously.”

“We are absolutely all vulnerable, which is the reason why we all need to be prepared in the event” something happens, she said at a press conference. “Today, compared to five years ago, the Department of Defense I would argue the (typical) employee knows what to do if they hear shots fired somewhere in their building.”

The base has quarterly exercises for contingencies, she said, such as what happened at the Washington Navy Yard on Monday and at Fort Hood, Texas, where 13 people were killed and 30 others were injured in a mass shooting in 2009. An Army major who was the sole gunman was sentenced to death for his actions in the Fort Hood shooting.

Monday’s shooting came just days before an estimated 30,000 people fill the streets of Wright-Patterson and surrounding communities Saturday for the Air Force Marathon.

Barlow said law enforcement and fire personnel will have a noticeable presence at the region’s largest one-day sporting event. Fairborn, Riverside and Beavercreek police and fire personnel will be there along with base security forces. The base has added anti-terrorism security measures to some gateways in recent years, such as larger curbs and reinforced bollards, she said.

“We already have a very enhanced security posture for the marathon this weekend,” Barlow said. “Some of the security will be visible and others won’t be visible. … We’ve planned for this event, we’ve trained for this event and we’re looking forward to a really successful marathon.”

Runners and others will have bags screened and visitors must walk through metal detectors as part of security measures, she said.

Wright-Patterson officials on Monday sent an email reminder to employees to stay vigilant to potential threats, officials said. The base also has an “eagle eyes” program that encourages employees to report suspicious activities on or off the installation.

“Every time there’s a situation like this, we always reach out to employees to remind people how they have been trained and how to respond,” said base spokesman Daryl Mayer.

Employees are taught to run, if able, from a potentially dangerous situation; hide if they cannot escape; and to fight back if no other alternative is available, he said.

“The training is put into practice through practical application exercises and drills so that the training becomes ingrained in employees,” he said. “People have to respond instinctively.”

Mayer said he could not recall any active shooter situations at Wright-Patterson, which is the largest single-site employer in Ohio with more than 29,000 employees and about 800 buildings.

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