Active shooter training helps local officers stay prepared | Local News

Active shooter training helps local officers stay prepared | Local News

PRINCETON — A body is sprawled in the hallway in front of the principal’s office Friday as a woman runs out of a kindergarten classroom, shrieking and pointing down the hallway.

“He’s got a gun! He went that way!” she yells, darting across the hall and down a stairwell. Princeton Police Officer Nefty Padilla is the first on the scene and runs down the hallway, toward the sound of gunshots.

Padilla descends down a stairwell, armed and scouting as he moves, running down the lower level hallway, where a woman is lying on the floor, shouting to him and pointing to a classroom: “He got me! He’s in there!”

He opens the door to the classroom, firing and bringing down the suspect.

Padilla is the first of several PPD officers who go through the same scenario in active shooter drills Friday afternoon at the former Lowell Elementary school building.

When single drills are complete, Princeton Fire Territory, school resource officers and some Gibson County Sheriff’s Office department members arrive for joint active shooter drills.

PPD Chief Derek McGraw said Friday’s training activity is something the department frequently offers. While public attention is on police response to mass shootings cross the nation, McGraw said the training is something the department has always offered.

Sheriff’s Office Capt. Deborah Borchelt said the PPD training sessions are good for everyone, because if there’s an incident in Gibson County, everyone responds together.

Volunteers helped put the exercise together. A mannequin sufficed for the first floor victim, and the volunteer running out of the classroom did double-duty, racing to the lower level before the officer arrived to pose as a second victim.

Officers were armed with air guns, firing soft plastic pellets that leave a dye mark at the point of impact.

Retired sheriff’s deputy Jeff Hill smacked two pieces of wood together, replicating a pretty realistic sound of gunfire, to draw the officers down to the lower level of the school building.

Before the drill began, officers gathered for a quick review of protocol. And, as each officer completed his drill, instructors reviewed their performance.

The section of Water Street in front of the school was cordoned off and notice was posted on the building alerting the public to the police drill in progress.