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Citizen Staff

Can’t wait for SWAT

Area cops taught to take control fast



CORRECTION (8/11/04)

Because of incorrect information provided to the Citizen, a photo caption accompanying an Aug. 3 story about active shooter training misidentified the police department Rosalind Williams works for. She is an officer with the Pima Community College Department of Public Safety.

A gunman stalks victims through a building, shooting them one by one as he goes.

Uniformed patrol officers, who once were taught to contain such situations and call for heavily armed and armored SWAT officers, are now expected to rush the building and stop the suspect before more people can be killed or wounded.

Yesterday police began a weeklong session to train officers to do just that.

Known by many as “active shooter training,” the exercise has been called stressful and realistic by officers because of the realistic mock gunfire and role-playing involved.

This week some 500 officers from the Tucson, Pima Community College and University of Arizona police departments will get the training.

SWAT officers are conducting the training, which involves people being threatened with death or killed or wounded.

The training is a refresher course for some officers and initial training for others who did not get it when it last was offered in April 2002, TPD spokesman Sgt. Marco Borboa said.

The city hasn’t had a situation in which officers had to rush a building while people were being shot, but the training is needed, Borboa said.

Tucson police, the Pima County Sheriff’s Department and other law enforcement agencies across the country began offering such training after the 1999 Columbine High School rampage in which two heavily armed students walked through the school, killing 12 students and a teacher and wounding 23 others.

During the shooting, law officers waited outside the Colorado school for SWAT officers to assemble and rush the school.

By the time they arrived, it was too late. The shooting stopped only after the two gunmen killed themselves.

PHOTO CAPTIONS: Photos by GARY GAYNOR/Tucson Citizen

TPD Sgt. David Azuelo (right) shows how to kill a hostage taker without hurting the hostage. Officer Eric Kamierczak acts as the bad guy as Sgt. Sandy Sellers acts as the victim. The drill was based on two men shooting a dozen people, holding others hostage and threatening to explode several bombs in a school.

LEFT: TPD officer Chris Dennison (left) and Pima College officer Rosalind Williams carry a “dead” shooting suspect out of a building. RIGHT: TPD officer Sandy Sellers slips on fake blood as she leads other officers in training. Sellers was not hurt. A mock victim (background, left) yells directions as officers enter.

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