6:54 a.m. PST December 18, 2015
The FBI occupied part of Chemeketa Community College’s Salem campus this week for a two-day active shooter response training.
About 30 deputies and police officers from area agencies participated in the FBI training geared toward local law enforcement.
Chemeketa’s Bill Kohlmeyer was one who helped organize the two-day training, saying it would be a “great opportunity … to have realistic training here at Chemeketa.”
Kohlmeyer worked with FBI special agent Forrest Schoening for almost two months to put the training together. Schoening was one of four special agents who taught the training.
This training was the second in Oregon this year, though Schoening said the FBI plans to do more in 2016.
Schoening said in many active shooter situations, the closest officer is the one to respond, whether they have backup or a background in SWAT or first responder training. This training helps to prepare more law enforcement for such a situation.
First responder training used to be slow and tactical, but for every second the officers didn’t neutralize the shooter, more people were in danger.
“The ultimate goal is to stop the killing,” he said. “We had to learn that the hard way with Columbine.”
Schoening said the closest officers to respond may be from different agencies, so part of the training helps them understand how to work with officers they haven’t worked with before in a life threatening situation.
The 30 or so trainees sat in lectures and classes for most of the training, finishing with live drills, which they conducted Thursday.
Schoening said participants were taught the nuts and bolts of active shooter response training.
The trainees learned the considerations of approaching an active shooter situation, such as where to park a police vehicle and why, how to get through a barricaded door, and how to utilize common tools for various breaching techniques.
The students also learned how to move through structures when they have few officers and a lot of space to cover. The goal is to move as quickly as possible, without sacrificing the safety of the officer(s), Schoening said.
They also learned how to gather intelligence information when they are inside, such as how many shooters there are, how many people are in the building, where are the exits, and more.
Finally, they learned what to do when inside a room with a shooter. They had to figure out how to control a room full of scared people while identifying and neutralizing a shooter, or multiple shooters.
Schoening said the amount of information taught during the two-day course could have been spread over multiple days, but law enforcement don’t have the luxury to lose officers off the street for long periods of time. It had to be condensed.
The participants all declined to discuss the training with the Statesman Journal.
Greg Harris, a spokesperson for Chemeketa, said this experience has helped the college even more with its threat management resources and preparedness.
“We’re grateful for the opportunity to strengthen our ties to local law enforcement,” he said. “They have been great partners in helping us prepare for the unthinkable.”