ELIZABETH, N.J. — In light of recent mass shooting events throughout the country, the Union County Prosecutor’s Office along with County Association of Chiefs of Police have redoubled efforts to ensure that officers are properly trained to respond to an active shooter incident.
Since 2005 more than 500 officers have completed a 16-hour training course that gives officers a history of active shooter incidents within the US and selected global cases; teaches the model response policy as determined by the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office. Additional training will be offered later this year.
“While we hope the day never comes, this training helps officers prepare for the possibility of a mass shooting in Union County,” said Prosecutor Romankow.
With the assistance of Federal homeland security funds, specialty equipment has been purchased and distributed among municipal police departments and units deemed likely to respond to active incidents.
Spearheaded and organized by Union County Prosecutor’s Office Deputy Chief John G. McCabe, in January 2013, all the police department chiefs in Union County attended a Union County Superintendents Roundtable to discuss school safety and security, said Prosecutor Romankow. At that meeting a comprehensive school security template to assist municipal police departments in the county was released. Departments and school administrators were also asked to assess areas that may be improved or enhanced within a facility’s physical security, in conjunction with the NJ School Security Task Force Best Practice plan. School administrators were also provided with a training video, created by the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, that details a response to an active shooter situation.
“The video explains the role of teachers and other school employees in an active shooter situation. In general, it also covers what a teacher or school employee might expect to experience in an active shooter situation,” said Romankow.
Additionally, earlier this year the Prosecutor authorized funding for a training course titled “Patrol Response to Active Shooter.” Offered as an in-service class, the cost will be covered by money in the Office’s forfeiture account. Currently the plan is to leverage the expertise of the Union County Emergency Response Team and County Association of Chiefs of Police to train 300 officers through the in-service program and approximately 100 additional recruits at the police academy this year and continue training until all are trained. This program is anticipated to begin in early Fall 2013, training 100 officers each in September, October and November.
“We can never understate the importance of safety and never underestimate the intent of some to cause devastating harm,” said Romankow. “We will work to be as prepared as we can be, and hope the training is never called into action.”