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Police training evolves as more shootings play out

CENTRAL VIRGINIA (WTVR) - Police training took a major overhaul after the Columbine High School shootings on April 20, 1999.

Before the high school shooting, officers would just set up a perimeter and wait for a SWAT team. These days, law enforcement have to take a different approach.

In fact,  Crater Criminal Justice Training Academy’s Joe Sumner said officers now take a rapid response and go in and immediately to take on the aggressor.

And how law enforcement officers deal with an “active shooter” situation has continued to evolve as the once unfamiliar situation becomes more frequent.

“We have to be pro-active and deal with the Active Shooter in a situation like that,” said Prince George County Police Chief Eddie Frankenstein.

Since July 20, when 12 were killed and 58 wounded during a mass shooting at a Colorado movie theater, there has also been a shooting at a Sikh Temple that left six dead and four wounded.

Additionally, police in New York City confronted an armed man accused of fatally shooting his former co-worker Friday morning.

Here in Virginia, police officers and sheriff’s deputies train like other law enforcement agencies across the country, learning from mistakes made at Columbine.

After the massacre at Virginia Tech on April 16, 2007, officers in the commonwealth continued to equip and train themselves for “active shooter” scenarios.

For Virginia law enforcement, one key to the training has been training help from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management. 

“We just did one a few weeks ago in the Roanoke Area at Virginia Western Community College.  [We] had more than 500 participating in that exercise and it was a really great opportunity to see them all come together [in a] very realistic situation,” said VDEM’s Bob Spieldenner.

More than 150 law enforcement and emergency personnel will also take part in an “active shooter” training exercise in King George County Tuesday. 

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