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Uvalde tragedy hangs over week-long incident response training in Springfield

Brian Bull
Trainees at a week-long exercise held inside the closed Mohawk Elementary School respond to a live-shooter incident.

Recently, law enforcement personnel from across Oregon converged on a Springfield elementary school to train for what’s called an “active violence incident.”

The week-long exercise saw officers from local and state police agencies carry out response drills in the shuttered Mohawk Elementary school.

In a hallway, teams of officers worked their way towards the sounds of simulated gunfire, checking points of entry in front and behind.

Active Violence Incident response training, Dec. 15, 2022

Justin Myer, a sergeant with the Springfield Police Department sergeant told KLCC that these exercises are responding to what’s called an “active violence incident” because not all scenarios involve guns.

“An act of violence can be anything from a shooter to an edged weapon, a vehicle, explosives. Any kind of act of violence where there’s a bad guy, where he’s inflicting damage upon innocent bystanders, civilians, schools, shopping centers, any type of public gathering,” Myer explained.

“Where there’s that act of violence occurring, we’re preparing to stop that violence.”

Oregon has seen its share of violence, including the Thurston School Shooting of 1998, and the Umpqua Community College shooting of 2015.

Springfield’s police chief told reporters at the training that he’s committed to learning the best response to active incidents where someone is threatening the lives of others.

Brian Bull
SPD Chief Andrew Shearer at the active violence incident training in Springfield.

“Honestly what generated this training is the failure that we saw happen in Uvalde. We cannot let that happen here in Springfield, we will not let that happen here in Springfield,” said SPD Chief Andrew Shearer. “This is one of the most critical roles the police department plays, is to protect the children in our community. And we are extremely committed to doing that, so we took a deep dive, and looked at our entire response to an active shooter event, and try to find gaps and where we could improve our service.”

Shearer said one tragic lesson learned from the Uvalde shooting is that police need to go in immediately to stop the killing.

19 students and two educators were killed when a former student of Robb Elementary opened fire last May. Families have especially condemned the police response to the incident.

©2022, KLCC.

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. In his 25+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (19 regional), the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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