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Forest ranger Capt. John Streiff, right, checks a hallway at the W. Alton Jones Cell Science Center before continuing a search for a shooter during a training session Thursday. Photo: Chris Morris via <a href="http://www.adirondackdailyenterprise.com/">Adirondack Daily Enterprise</a>
Forest ranger Capt. John Streiff, right, checks a hallway at the W. Alton Jones Cell Science Center before continuing a search for a shooter during a training session Thursday. Photo: Chris Morris via Adirondack Daily Enterprise

North Country law enforcement trains for shooting incidents

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Police and emergency personnel gathered in Lake Placid last week to learn some critical skills and techniques for responding to an active shooting incident.

Law enforcement agencies from across the North Country took part in the training sessions, which were held at the former W. Alton Jones Cell Science Center in Lake Placid. Participants included members of New York State Police; the Essex, Clinton and Franklin County sheriff's departments; Tupper Lake, Saranac Lake and Lake Placid police departments; and state environmental conservation officers and forest rangers.

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Reported by

Chris Morris
Tri-Lakes Correspondent

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The last time I did anything like this was in the service, and that was 23 years ago. This is very good training.
The New York state Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services coordinated the training, which focused on scenarios in which two officers arrive at a location where a shooter is at large in various settings, like a school, office building or a mall. The science center was a good fit, since it consists of office space, cubicles and long hallways.

Bob Stallman is acting director of operations for the state Preparedness Training Center. He led the two-day sessions.

"What we do is we tell the officers what the scenario is," he said. "An example is: It's an office complex, a disgruntled employee returns, starts shooting, may have hit one or two people, one of the employees calls 911 and says, 'There's a shooter in the building.' Then the officers arrive, and they deal with whatever presents itself during that scenario, whether there's currently shots being fired when they come in, or it's quiet and they have to kind of search some rooms and find the shooter. And then eventually some shots will be fired, and they go and find the shooter."

The trainees moved rapidly through a hallway – one leading, one following – as an instructor gave directions and encouragement. Before turning a corner, they stopped, checked to make sure their path was clear, and then proceeded into a room, where shouting could be heard. Outside of the room, another instructor fired a fake handgun, prompting the trainees to exit the room and move in the direction of the gunfire.

Forest ranger Capt. John Streiff was among the 30 or so who took part in the training Thursday.

"It's very realistic training that they put you through," he said. "You feel like you're really in the situation that they want you to mimic in real life. The instructors and the role players who assist up here do a really great job. It's been very well received by the officers who've taken it so far in the last two days."

Tupper Lake police Officer Wesley Hoyt said the training was intense.

"The last time I did anything like this was in the service, and that was 23 years ago," he said. "This is very good training."

Hoyt said he hopes he'll never have to use the skills he learned, but some of them are still applicable to everyday situations, like safely entering a room when responding to an emergency call.

Streiff and Hoyt said the recent shootings in Herkimer didn't play a role in their decision to do the training.

"I would have taken this regardless," Hoyt said. "An active shooter is something every police officer needs to deal with. Especially in our schools. Look at it this way: I have kids in my school, but every kid in Tupper Lake is mine. So even after my children have graduated, those kids are still my kids. I think this is great training and every police officer should go through it."

This is the first time Homeland Security has used the Lake Placid science center for training, although the state police Special Operations Response Team has used the building in the past.

Reporter Chris Morris' reporting is courtesy of the Adirondack Daily Enterprise. For more of his work, go to AdirondackDailyEnterprise.com.

 

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