By Terry Lehrke, News Editor
Law enforcement officers from across the state converged on Camp Ripley for specialized training to sharpen their skills in dealing with active shooters in a building.
The Law Enforcement Active Shooter Emergency Response (LASER) training Tuesday involved a scenario in which officers responded to a three-story government building, where active shooters had taken hostages and civilians had been shot and injured.
Camp Ripley’s Combined Arms Collective Training Facility (CACTF) has several concrete buildings used in just such training exercises.
Trading gunshots using plastic bullets, officers learned the best way to enter the stairwell, where a shooter may very well have been waiting to kill the officers.
Two by two, the officers were sent up stairwells, covering each other, and then back down.
They were sent amid cries of “He’s got a gun.” Volunteers from Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM) took over the roles of both shooters and victims.
The officers were trained in how to react to different situations. In turn, they will go back to their agencies and teach what they learned, becoming in essence trainers themselves.
“Creating a scenario that involves an active shooter in a government building that would be filled with citizens allows law enforcement personnel to enhance their decision-making skills in a realistic setting,” said Nancy Lageson, of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM).
“HSEM co-sponsored this active shooter training at the request of the Murray County Sheriff’s Office,” said Lageson. “The training provides an opportunity for law enforcement to train and improve their skills together.”
The training was held for outlying law enforcement agencies including county sheriff’s officers from Hennepin, Douglas, Grant, Cottonwood, Stearns, Koochiching, Cass, Mahnomen, Murray, Goodhue, and police officers from St. Coud, Long Prairie, International Falls, Staples, Alexandria and Dilworth, as well as officers from the Leech Lake Tribal police and the Department of Natural Resources.
“This active shooter training not only improves the skills of the law enforcement officers attending, it provided training for them to share with other members of their jurisdictions,” said Lageson.
The training exercise, conducted during National Preparedness Month, was coordinated through the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, Homeland Security Division and was funded by a Stonegarden grant through Homeland Security.
Gary Lokken, critical infrastructure planner with the Department of Public Safety, worked with John Blood on coordination.
Training instructors came from the National Center for Biomedical Research and Training, Academy of Counter-Terrorist Education, Louisiana State University.