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September 3, 2013

Response time is key in active shooter situations

CULLMAN — The skills obtained through the recent Active Shooter course are now being relayed to the rest of the Cullman Police Department through two-day training exercises.

Training Sgt. Jason Mickle and Sgt. Todd Chiaranda attended the previous course involving departments from across the United States. The course was hosted by the Cullman police department and held at Cullman Middle School where they completed hands-on scenarios and informative classroom training in relation to handling an active shooter on a school campus or at a business. Mickle said he hopes the department can continue to do the course each year.

“This training is something that we want to try and do every year to keep the officers updated with new information and give them some options if this type of thing were to happen in Cullman,” Mickle said. “We want to have a uniform response with everyone on the same page if they encounter something like this.”

Mickle and Chiaranda led the training session involving all of the police department beginning with the patrol officers. The officers are separated into groups of 7-8 and go through two, six-hour days of training experience to better equip them for catastrophic situations.

“We do a little bit of classroom work to let everyone know the current trends that have went on in recent active shooter events across the country so people will know what they can expect from the active shooter itself if it does happen,” Mickle said. “We do the scenario-based things so we can use force on force, where you’re working with someone who is actually shooting back at you, and having to go up against an opponent.”

Police Chief Kenny Culpepper said the class has been an asset to the department and has received positive feedback from the participants thus far.

“This is something that you’re always working on, to be better trained at your job and to have a quicker response time for those types of emergencies,” Culpepper said. “I have only heard good things about it from the officers, not only are they learning a lot, but they are enjoying the role playing.”

Based on studies by the NYPD and FBI, Mickle said the average active shooter incident is 7-8 minutes long and he said police response is key in controlling the event.

“One of the biggest things that I’ve gotten out of active shooter and trying to relay to our guys is how quickly the situation can happen,” Mickle said. “We need to do what we can to speed up our response and contact time, so we can get to the guy and stop him. On the schools part, they are wanting to do everything that they can to slow him down allowing us to get there and perform an intervention and stop him from killing people.”

In the upcoming weeks, the police department will send all 49 full-time officers through the program in order to better prepare them in case tragedy were to strike in Cullman.

* Lauren Estes can be reached at laurene@cullmantimes.com or 256-734-2131, ext. 137.

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