Local agencies perform active shooter training
Colfax Police, Washington State Patrol and the Whitman County Sheriff's Office were involved
January 5, 2023
COLFAX - The Whitman County Sheriff's Office held an active training shooting at the Colfax High School, Thursday, Dec. 29.
Training scenarios were at noon, 4 p.m., and 6 p.m. The Whitman County Sheriff Posse was also there to help with training purposes.
There were several law enforcement officers who attended the training including Whitman County Sheriff's Office, Washington State Patrol, and Colfax Police Department.
Since the agencies so often work together with local law enforcement practices and train together as much as possible, as well as make it as realistic for the trainees.
Sheriff's Deputy Jim Pelissier explained that this specific training is done once a year, "Covid put a dent on it," he said, noting that they're back at it now.
Myers explained that they use simulated firearms or munitions for the training, "It's paint rounds in this case," he said, adding that just doing a roleplay doesn't have the same impact as using the simulated weapons to train for real life experience.
"In rural law enforcement you have an active dynamic," Myers said, noting that this calls for an intermingled response. The Sheriff's office can handle day to day, but when it comes to bigger emergencies you see several other agencies show up as well, " in a dynamic emergency situation it's all hands on deck," Myers added.
Chief of Colfax Police, Bruce Blood also added that there would be several departments that would handle active shooter situations, "if there were this kind of situation at LaCrosse High School, the Colfax PD would respond," Blood said, noting that the Colfax PD is closest.
In that situation Blood said a trooper could be the first on the scene, or if the situation is really bad the response could come from Pullman. "We don't wait, whoever is there goes in," Blood added.
Pelissier also spoke to the fact that if it came to a school shooting the response would be a much faster response time for towns like Colfax, or Pullman than for the outlying towns, "If it's outlying towns it can take almost 20 minutes to respond," he said.
Pelissier further explained that there are no requirements to the amount of officers who can go into the situation, "usually you'll see about 3 deputies, one police officer, and one patrolman," he said, "It's a county coordinated effort."
In the second scenario there were two armed moms who played a part, which Pelissier noted was always possible.
"People in the smaller town expressed the want to help in such situations," Pelissier said, noting that firefighters and farmers have said that if law enforcement could not show up they'd be willing to deal with the situation.
Pelissier also noted that from a law enforcement perspective parents need to let law enforcement deal with the situation, "but from a parent's standpoint, I can understand wanting to get in there," he said.
He further explained that law enforcement doesn't encourage parents to get in the situation, they won't stop them if they do. "We'll probably just tell them to watch our backs," he added, noting that his only advice to parents would be that if a cop tells them to put the weapon down they need to do it, "the description of the shooter is not always clear," he said, noting that if they see someone with a gun and don't know that person runs the risk of being shot.
"A really disgruntled parent might be arrested for disorderly conduct," Pelissier added, "the odds of a parent getting charged in the situation is low."
As for students who are stuck in the building during an active shooter situation Pelissier advised that they get out of the building if they can, "our ultimate goal is to get people out," he said, noting that they should look for anything they can get out of including windows, side doors, or any alternate location that school would use.
Pelissier also shared that there are some new EMS, and that over the last couple of years new ideas have been put into place, "EMS didn't come in until the scene was more secure," he said, explaining that now they have a warm zone cleaned up by law enforcement so that victims can get help quicker. As well as make sure the building is secure.
Teachers are required to know basic first aid, and so are put to work Pelissier stated, noting that the information about the shooting is shared with the teachers, but not the students.