FBI Trains Cops to Deal With Mass Shooters

Local cops taught to face gunmen head on, alone if necessary

By Newser Editors and Wire Services

Posted Aug 20, 2013 2:44 PM CDT

(Newser) – Two hostages stand at the classroom entrance and another lies seriously wounded outside. "Don't come down here, I'm telling you—I'll kill 'em," a man shouts to officers snaking down the corridor with guns drawn. Negotiations fizzle, the officers yell to the hostages to get down, and the gunman is taken out in a swift gunfight. The drill is part of a training program the FBI is helping run for local law enforcement agents nationwide. Acting on a post-Newtown White House directive, and partnering with a Texas-based training center, the FBI has been teaching best practices for responding to mass shootings.

The goal is to promote a standardized strategy as local police departments—invariably the first officers to arrive—respond to such shootings. The drills, which use non-lethal rounds, reinforce the now-standard protocol of engaging the shooter directly instead of waiting for specialized SWAT teams, even if the officer's weapon is less powerful than the gunman's and even if studies show a solo officer will be shot one-third of the time. "You can never get to the point where it's real life. Always in back of the officer's head, they know, 'I'm not actually going to die,'" one instructor says. But "it's as close as we can get to the real thing."

FBI instructor Mike Copeland, second from left, prepares local police officers for an active shooter drill in a college classroom in Salisbury, Md., Aug. 13, 2013.
FBI instructor Mike Copeland, second from left, prepares local police officers for an active shooter drill in a college classroom in Salisbury, Md., Aug. 13, 2013.   (Patrick Semansky)
Maryland State Police Sgt. Renee White handles simulation bullets as she prepares for a series of active shooter drills in Salisbury, Md., Aug. 13, 2013.
Maryland State Police Sgt. Renee White handles simulation bullets as she prepares for a series of active shooter drills in Salisbury, Md., Aug. 13, 2013.   (Patrick Semansky)
In this Aug. 13, 2013 photo, police officers participate in an active shooter drill move down a hallway in a college classroom building in Salisbury, Md.
In this Aug. 13, 2013 photo, police officers participate in an active shooter drill move down a hallway in a college classroom building in Salisbury, Md.   (Patrick Semansky)
A police officer carries a simulation handgun in his holster as FBI instructor Mike Sotka, back center, gives them a critique after an active shooter drill in Salisbury, Md., Aug. 13, 2013
A police officer carries a simulation handgun in his holster as FBI instructor Mike Sotka, back center, gives them a critique after an active shooter drill in Salisbury, Md., Aug. 13, 2013   (Patrick Semansky)
Maryland State Police instructor Mark McGwire, center, prepares officers for an active shooter drill in a college classroom in Salisbury, Md., Aug. 13, 2013.
Maryland State Police instructor Mark McGwire, center, prepares officers for an active shooter drill in a college classroom in Salisbury, Md., Aug. 13, 2013.   (Patrick Semansky)
Maryland State Police Sgt. Renee White hands a police officer a simulation handgun as they prepare for a series of active shooter drills in a college classroom building in Salisbury, Md.
Maryland State Police Sgt. Renee White hands a police officer a simulation handgun as they prepare for a series of active shooter drills in a college classroom building in Salisbury, Md.   (Patrick Semansky)
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