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Active shooter

Arnold Police Participate In "Active Shooter" Training

ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, Tenn. Arnold Air Force Base Police Department (APD) should be better prepared to deal with an active shooter after completing recent up to date training.

APD officers and Tullahoma policemen completed the training Oct. 4-15 at Tullahoma High School while students and teachers were on fall break.

Lt. Buck Young, who is in charge of the Combat Arms Training Section for APD, said the “Patrol Response to the Active Shooter” course consisted of both classroom and live scenario training and gave the participants a historical overview of active shooter incidents which have occurred across the country.

“It goes through the historical review of active shooter events as well as what’s driving our training today,” he said. “The mindset really started changing about the time of [the] Columbine [High School shooting]. The traditional response was to set up a perimeter and wait on a SWAT [Special Weapons and Tactics] team, but we can’t do that anymore because of the lives being taken at the time.

“Now our response is we gear up as soon as we get there, somebody takes charge, grabs a couple of bodies [police officers] and we go in the building and go straight to the bad guy. We also worked on some movements and tactics on how we would safely and efficiently move throughout the building, encountering hallways, stairs and actually making entrance into a room if we needed to and do it safely and quickly as we possibly can to minimize any casualties.”

Active shooter

Lieutenant Young said the active part of the training was very realistic, and officers even used a special type of ammunition.

“We used marking cartridges; it’s kind of like paintball but with a little more velocity to it,” he said. “They’re actually a little bit smaller, and if they hit exposed skin they may leave a welt.”

“It’s just a painful reminder that you may have made a small mistake. We use those because it’s more of reality-based type training, and we want to see exactly how the guys are going to respond in [stressful] situations.”

The last time APD conducted active shooter training for the entire force was two years ago at Coffee County Middle School, but the Air Force is now requiring the training to be done annually, according to Lieutenant Young.

“Last year they just had a little bit of refresher training, and it was pretty much classroom stuff,” he said. “We wanted to get back to actually doing the motions and going through the whole nine yards every year.

“It’s something we consider a perishable skill, and if you don’t do it on a regular basis … these are things that they can forget. Hopefully, by us doing this over and over and over again – and now being an annual requirement – this is going to help our guys retain the information a little bit better … and ultimately be able to go in there and effectively do what they’re supposed to do in an active shooter event.”

In addition, Lieutenant Young said instructor training was held a few years ago at Clark Memorial Elementary School in Winchester for police agencies throughout the area, including Tullahoma, Franklin County, Coffee County, and as far away as Metro Nashville.

“We did that because we wanted everybody on the same sheet of music,” he said. “That enabled me, when we did the training this time, to be able to pull one of the instructors they had over there [from Tullahoma Police] to assist me during the training.”

Active shooter

Lieutenant Young said the Air Force policy that the training be conducted annually was prompted by such high profile shooting incidents like the one at Ford Hood, Texas, in 2009, where a gunman killed 13 people and wounded 30 others.

“That was resolved by two Fort Hood cops who’d been trained in active shooter response,” he said. “They went in, they did what they were supposed to do and they eliminated the threat.”

Lieutenant Young praised Tullahoma High School Principal Mike Landis for allowing
police to use the building for training.

“Although we don’t leave much evidence behind, sometimes school administrators are leery of giving police unrestricted access to their facilities.” he said. “He knew it was for the betterment of the officers.”

The training was a coordinated effort between Lt. Ray Higginbotham of Tullahoma PD and Arnold PD. Lieutenant Young was assisted in the instruction by Tullahoma Investigator Dale Stone, Franklin County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Seth Isbell, and Arnold Officer Brian Jackson.

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