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Training to be ready to take care of business


Canby High School was the scene of highly specialized training that brought about 165 area law enforcement officials to the area

by: RAY HUGHEY - More than 165 police officers underwent specialized training at Canby High School recently, simulating an assault on a school building.Mass shootings. Tragedies that occur all too often, in a Colorado movie theater, a Connecticut elementary school and as close to home as a Clackamas shopping mall.

It’s something law officers hope never happens, but if it does, they must be prepared to deal with it.

by: RAY HUGHEY - And more officers are being trained for that situation through programs like the interagency active shooter response training conducted over 2 ½ weeks recently in Canby and Oregon City.

About 165 area law enforcement officers went through the program initiated by Clackamas County Criminal Justice Training Council, comprised of community police chiefs.

Nine agencies were represented – Oregon State Police, the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office and police departments from Canby, Oregon City, Milwaukie, Gladstone, Molalla, West Linn and Sandy.

The law enforcement response to an active shooter situation has changed greatly since the 1999 Columbine High School massacre, said Canby Police Sgt. Doug Kitzmiller, training officer for his department and the interagency workshop.

by: RAY HUGHEY - Before Columbine, police would lock down the shooting site and call in special units he said. But that gave the shooter more time to harm more people.

Now small teams of officers go in as quickly as possible to hunt the shooter down and stop further violence.

The new training quickly puts small teams of trained first responding officers into quick action, using adaptation of tested military tactics.

They no longer clump together in the center of the hall, easy targets. They hug the walls, leapfrogging each other as they advance on the shooter. They move in fluid crisp efficiency, working overlapping zones.

The interagency training allows officers from different agencies to all get on the same page as far as tactics, Kitzmiller said.

They follow the same procedures, use the same language.

Last summer, 30 officers went through a program to learn how to train fellow officers. Twenty-seven of them were trainers for this summer’s program, including three Canby PD officers — Kitzmiller, Sgt. Tim Green and Detective Sgt. Frank Schoenfeld.

The training is geared toward the worst-case scenario, not just what is likely to happen, Kitzmiller said.

by: RAY HUGHEY - Once on the scene, officers might find they are dealing with multiple shooters or well-armed adult shooters with advanced training instead of a teenager with a stolen gun.

Perhaps the most dangerous part comes entering a room where the shooter is harming people.

“We’ve got to go in there and stop them,” Kitzmiller said. “Time is not on our side and it needs to be done.”