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Police Departments Nationwide Look To Dayton For Active Shooter Training

In an abandoned building Dayton Police recruits simulate a school shooting. [Ann Thompson / WVXU]
In an abandoned building Dayton Police recruits simulate a school shooting.

Police departments from all over the country are calling on Dayton for active shooter training. They recognize that Dayton officers were able to take down Connor Betts 30 seconds after they got the call in a shooting that could have been much worse.

Nine people were killed and more than two dozen were injured on Aug. 4, 2019 in Dayton's Oregon Historic District.

The training has taken Dayton Police to New York City, upstate New York and San Diego. They have been invited to Los Angeles and Detroit. Maj. Chris Malson said typically, the hosting departments pay Dayton's travel expenses.

It was after the Columbine shooting in 1999 that Dayton decided to look at the police response there and learn from it. Since then, the department has sought out advanced training from the National Tactical Officers Association and other SWAT teams across the nation.

"We want to train them because our success was based on the fact that others did the same," said Malson.

Dayton's active shooter training has evolved, Malson said, from the days when officers on the scene would wait for the SWAT team to come.

But now, "the training is find the bad guy and then we teach them different responses based on what the bad guy does. They are instantanious decisions," he said. "There's not going to be a lot of de-escalation or trying to talk them down, telling them to drop the weapon because every second is a life."

Officers carry rifles and increased body armor in their cruisers and that helped with the August shooting.

Malson remembers the Oregon District shooting:  "If you watch the videos that we put outyou'll see some officers just take off running. They're ones who didn't have the patrol rifles or the shotguns. They're doing what we trained. Go find the shooter then you'll see a couple seconds later the shotgun and the rifle come into play. So they did exactly what we trained them to do."

The goal is to stop the timeline of violence to save lives.

That was evident in Tuesday's recruit training in an abandoned building that was the scene of a pretend school shooting.

The recruits, in groups of four, had to determine the direction shots were being fired and run towards the bad guys, all while dealing with dark hallways and a screaming victim. To make sure their heart rate was up before the drill Malson said they had to do push-ups and run.

Even after the Oregon District shooting the department is making adjustments inclduing increasing the number of medical supplies officers carry in their cruisers.

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