SPOKANE, Wash. — Following the recent shooting in Uvalde, Texas, the Spokane Police Department shared what active shooter training looks like for its officers.
According to Officer Nick Briggs, every couple of years, Spokane police participate in a regional live action training for an active shooter scenario. But, multiple times a year, officers go through specialized skills training to be even more prepared.
Responding to an active shooter situation is extremely chaotic for first responders, which is why Officer Nick Briggs said they focus on communication when training with other emergency services.
“Having officers know how to communicate both with people they're familiar working with, but then also with people from other agencies that they've never met is really vital,” Briggs said.
Through community partnerships, Briggs said SPD’s SWAT team also runs active shooter drills in a variety of buildings in Spokane, including churches, schools and large businesses.
“Going into a building that we haven't seen or a structure we're unfamiliar with adds that degree of realism and makes us really test our skills a lot more because we can't script anything because we don’t know it," Briggs said.
But, tactics for active shooter training has evolved over the years, according to Briggs.
For example, law enforcement has learned that waiting to stop an active shooter threat cost lives. So now, Briggs said, officers don’t wait.
“The number one priority in the situation is protecting innocent lives," Briggs said. "So officers, even though they're acting alone or acting in a small team, in haste it greatly increases the risk to the individual officers. At the end of the day, that's what we're there to do and that is the risk that everybody knew coming into this profession.”
Based on initial reports, Briggs said it appears this is the same tactic used during the Uvalde shooting Tuesday.
“The information I've seen is that a solo Border Patrol agent entered the building and was able to neutralize the threat there," he said. "So, that's consistent with some of the evolution of the training that has occurred over the last 20 some years.”
He adds the department is continually discussed the lessons learned from previous incidents nationally and locally.
“The law enforcement community is really good about providing that information to fellow to partner agencies," Briggs said. "Because ultimately these events are very tragic, and our job is to try to mitigate some of that tragedy and limit the loss of life.”
Briggs said SPD did have officer posted outside a variety of Spokane schools Wednesday morning. There were no threats reported. The department just wanted to have a presence to reassure the community they are here.