SPOKANE, Wash. — It took Spokane first responders minutes to get to Freeman High School in response to the shooter. They were able to do this because of a newer training philosophy that helps officers prepare for these situations.
In the case of an active shooter, the law enforcement philosophy used to be to “wait until SWAT arrived.” That philosophy changed after the shooting at Columbine.
“The philosophy of today is first officers go in and if that means you’re alone, you go in,” said Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich.
He said that is the exact situation that happened at Freeman High School.
"A deputy and I were the first ones there. He was down at the junior high and went in. There was no back up. Once they knew they had at least one shooter, because you never take it for granted you only have one, they neutralized him and as more officers showed up,” Knezovich said. “Then they teams get formed and you do clearances of the entire building."
Sheriff Knezovich said the first time local law enforcement used this immediate response method was the shooting at Lewis and Clark High school.
The reason for the switch to immediate response and not waiting for SWAT came down to one simple reason: Saving lives.
"It changed because we knew that too many people would die. So we go in immediately. The only time it becomes a SWAT action is either mop up or if it becomes hostage or barricaded subject,” Knezovich said. “We're there to save lives. Our job is to go in and stop that shooter."
© 2017 KREM-TV