AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – State and local police agencies gathered on the campus of UMass on Thursday to train for a school shooter. The training was paid for with more than $100,000 in grant money. Officers told 22News the best way to learn is by “doing.”
It’s a day they hope will never come. More than 100 emergency responders trained inside the Franklin dining common for a campus gunman.
“I believe it does need to happen. This is what the public expects. They expect you to train for it. In the event that it does happen…hope for the best, prepare for the worst it really the mentality of law enforcement today,” said Hadley Police Chief Michael Mason.
22News cameras were not allowed inside, as local state and regional police agencies practiced a tactical training scenario using washable crayon-like ammunition. Our cameras were allowed inside the universities Emergencia Operation Center, were they can stream stream cameras and monitor social media feeds. They’ve used this room during disturbances and for gas emergencies.
Jeffrey Hescock is the Director of Emergency Management at UMass. He said while the tactical shooter training was going on inside the dining common, about 30 others practiced the decision making needed to coordinate and communicate.
“So we have our UMass Amherst alert system which includes or text messages, e-mails and sirens. We mocked a simulation with the e-mails and texts to a certain predetermined group on the campus so it was testing that in real time to see how it worked and then it just came down to decisions that would have to be made,” said Hescock.
UMass employee Marc Dusza told 22News he tries not to think about this worst case scenario.
“It’s possible, but you really can’t through life doing that. You need to live life in every moment and embrace it and you just have to always be aware, aware of your surroundings.”
Now that the training is over, UMass says evaluate what went right and wrong, and work to improve.