Police, sheriff's deputies learn what to do in school attack - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Police officers, sheriff's deputies learn what to do in school attack

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AUSTIN, Minn. (KTTC) -- Our communities are protected every moment by law enforcement, and to ensure they're prepared at a moments notice, training is paramount. The best training needs to be hands-on experience, and Austin High School was used for that exact purpose.

It is a month's worth of coordination and organization, all coming together into one night of extensive training exercises. It is those drills that could prevent severe losses of life.

Police training exercises need to be as realistic as possible, and this time around the Austin Police Department went all out to give their officers as realistic of scenarios as possible.

"The idea is to give officers the ability to make the decisions that they need to do on an officer-level basis," explains Detective Todd Clennon with the Austin Police Department, "and make those decisions in support of the protection of civilians and victims and innocents."

The scenarios run at Austin High School Thursday involved shooters in public buildings, and what to do if someone with a gun opens fire in places like the school.

"The environment is going to be chaotic," says Clennon, "and that is part of the hurdle that these officers have to learn to work in and mentally prepare them for that."

Austin Police, along with the Mower County Sheriff's Dept., Austin Fire and medical teams were all involved, making this one of the most extensive training exercises ever run.

They are normally smaller sessions.

"Due to the changing environment of these situations, we felt that it was important to include everyone as much as possible," says Clennon, "so we are all on the same page and able to respond better to the situation."

The changing environment, talking about a country still reeling from the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, which means for Clennon this training exercise is that much more crucial.

"This is an event that takes us outside our world of normal, and as a police officer that's tough to define. However, these are extraordinary events, and to be mentally prepared for the environment is as much of a challenge as being physically prepared to take the necessary actions."

A good number of students and school officials aided law enforcement in the exercises Thursday. They tend to take place every couple of years to keep the training fresh, but generally not at this scale.

All the officers involved were said to be responding very well to the scenarios.

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