NPD active shooter training held at old PAPP Clinic building
by Wes Mayer
On Tuesday and Wednesday, officers with the Newnan Police Department participated in training at the old PAPP Clinic building on Jackson Street to learn how to effectively respond to and neutralize an active shooter situation.
A total of 80 Newnan officers will go through the training, which continues in June, said Lt. Mark Cooper with the police department. Officers trained for eight hours each day in the classroom and by running through various active shooter scenarios. The scenarios included officers using special Glock training pistols which fire simulated rounds to neutralize both paper and “force-on-force” – human bad guy – targets.
Because some officers are now working the night shift, the department will hold training sessions during two more days in June after the officers have a shift change, Cooper said.
In the classroom, the officers learn about the history of active shooter situations and their common denominators, the chaos and side effects of the situations and the legal aspects of what sort of force they can expect to use, Cooper said. But the department tries to spend less time in the classroom because it takes away from the officers’ practical hands-on training.
For the scenario drills, officers train in teams of four – called immediate reaction teams, Cooper said. In some situations, one officer would arrive first and go in alone, and the others would follow shortly behind. Officers practice moving down halls and clearing rooms just as they would in a real world situation. To add to the reality, some scenarios include fire alarms going off, smoke generators and people playing the part of the victims and the active shooter or shooters.
“It is those officers’ job while there is an active shooter situation or any major violence going on to find the person and stop the violence by any means possible,” Cooper said. “We try to have anything to cause officers to have the closest reality without actually having the reality.”
To prevent any serious injuries, the officers use weapons specialized to fire simulated ammo, Cooper said. The pistols, Glock 17 Ts, are virtually identical to the standard issue firearms the officers carry on duty, except the barrel and spring rod are different and will not fire the standard 9mm ammo. Instead, they fire a 7.2 mm projectile which is plastic-tipped and filled with brightly colored laundry detergent – when the projectile strikes the target, the tip breaks off and the detergent leaves a mark. Cooper said this “simunition” still hurts, but they only travel at around 450 feet per second compared to the 9mm’s 1200 feet per second.
Because the detergent leaves marks on the target, at the end of each drill, the instructors will see where the officers or the bad guys were hit and see which shots would have been lethal. For the purpose of the training, though, even if the officers are struck mid-run, their job is to press forward through the injury and finish the job, Cooper said. After each run, the instructors will tell officers what could be improved and what they did well.
Part of the training is psychological, Cooper said. By going through the training, the officers gain the confidence to know they can finish the job.
“It’s one of the closest things we can do for negative reinforcement,” Cooper said. “The officers learn to go in with what they need, be proficient with that equipment and stop the violence as quickly as possible.”
Cooper said he hopes to set up a full mock scenario soon which will include all the public safety departments working together. Police will perform the active shooter scenarios and will secure the victims and the perimeter, the fire department and emergency medical units will transport the victims to the hospital which will also be involved in the drill and an investigation will be completed on the scene. Cooper hopes to have this set up by the end of the summer or fall.