News: Marine law enforcement reaffirms active shooter training amid Aurora shooting
Story by Cpl. Tyler J. Bolken
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. – Hearing breaking news of an active shooter incident never gets easier.
The Aurora, Colo., movie theater shooting, July 20, again showed us no place is immune to random acts of violence.
Marine Corps law enforcement personnel conduct required active shooter training annually and stress the importance of incorporating it into regular training as often as possible, which was the case here, Aug. 1.
“My greatest fear and what I think about when I go to sleep each night is an active shooter,” said Elijah Bouie Jr., Cherry Point deputy chief of police, and a native of Monticello, Fla. “You just don’t know.”
A shooter’s motive is questioned with each incident, but offers little for prevention of a future one.
“All we can do is be proactive and prepare,” said Bouie, a retired Marine master gunnery sergeant, who was a military policeman assigned to the Pentagon when the Fort Hood shooting happened in November 2009.
The Fort Hood shooting, where 13 people were killed, was an eye-opening, close-to-home incident for the Department of Defense, said Bouie.
“Everybody had to adapt,” he said. “The Marine Corps and Army became advocates for active shooter training, spending hours going through plans and scenarios to implement into training requirements.”
Cherry Point law enforcement personnel performed multiple active shooter scenarios here in an old, vacant building, perfect for its long hallways, hidden closets and stairwells. Simulated causalities littered the building, crying for help and signaling the location of the shooter.
“We try to maximize their training with any possible problem we can throw at them, so they’re more well rounded for an active shooter response,” said Aaron M. Avery, a lead instructor for Cherry Point’s active shooter training. “We want to assault their senses with a lot of noise and confusion because in real life, like in Colorado, there were smoke bombs, chaos and people running – I want to introduce that to them.”
Adding to the reality, “simunition” rounds were used, allowing the trainees to feel and see when and where they were shot.
The Marines and civilian law enforcement engage in two and four-man teams in pursuit of their target, clearing one area at a time. Maintaining awareness of their surroundings, they must seek and neutralize the shooter.
“Time is precious and can be the difference in saving lives. The situation has to end quickly,” said Avery. “It is our end goal and what we train for.”
Bouie added the real life training enables any police officer to react to a situation, making their response second nature.
“An active shooter situation is instantaneous, right now,” he said. “Watching our guys go through the training, seeing their adrenaline, it’s real to them.”
Bouie said he never wants his personnel to wonder “what if,” and because of the steady training schedule they endure, he said he is confident they can successfully respond to any situation.
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