Montana State University police and other agencies are teaming up this week to train for a horrifying possible scenario: an active shooter situation.
MSU campus police and others are using Roskie Hall as a hub for the annual training sponsored by the FBI.
MSU police chief Frank Parrish says each active shooter scenario resonates even deeper following recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, Dayton, Ohio, and Gilroy, California.
“Officers have to be aggressive,” Parrish says. “They have to go towards the shooter and they have to stop the killing as quickly as possible.”
Reports of that kind violence are ones no one wants to hear, but those are the calls police have to be ready for.
“Unfortunately, in this day and age, school shootings and public shootings are part of what’s going on,” says Matt Caires, MSU Dean of Students.
A poignant realization, according to Caires: trainings like this are necessary.
“It’s critical,” Caires says. “MSU being ready and having the ability to respond, we’re talking nearly 17,000 young people in a very confined space.”
“We’re actually using ammunition called sim-munitions,” Parrish says. “It’s very similar to a paintball but it’s in the same caliber as our normal duty weapons so it really gives it that real-life approach to training.”
From the type of bullets to the screams, the scenarios are designed this way for a reason.
“Since Columbine, law enforcement response to active shooters has changed dramatically,” Parrish says. “We no longer can wait for backup and so an officer may have to go in, solo, and engage an active shooter and that’s why this training is so important.”
Just being a part of one drill shows the intensity, still a fraction of what it would be like for the real thing.
“It does hurt when you get hit with those rounds and it’s designed to hurt for a reason,” Parrish says. “We want officers to understand that there’s consequences for a bad decision.”
These scenarios prepare law enforcement, in case the worst happens so that they can act quickly.
Being ready as a team, answering the most terrifying calls.
Chief Parrish says all they can do is stay ahead of any future danger.
“I don’t have the words to describe how I feel every time I see one of these active shooter news stories,” Parrish says. “It breaks my heart and it makes me wonder where are we headed, as a nation? And what are we going to do to stop this?”
The training will continue until Thursday.