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Elementary school becomes training site for shooter scenario

Elementary school becomes training site for shooter scenario

By Denise Wong. CREATED May 17, 2013

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- They prepared for the worst on what may have been the best possible day. On Friday morning, there were no classes scheduled, so students and teachers were not present at Paradise Elementary School.

That's why officers thought this would be the best day to test out their emergency response drill. "We want to test a series of systems. We want to test our response times and our communications capabilities," said Jose Elique, Chief of the UNLV Police Department.

Last December's shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut made police agencies around the country want to do more to protect kids. Including the UNLV Police Department.

The chief said his department regularly conducts emergency response drills and prepares for the worst, but he realized they needed to do an "active shooter" response drill with the Metro Police Department.

The UNLV Police Department would be the first responders in case of an emergency at Paradise Elementary School, since it is located on the UNLV campus. But Metro would also be called in to help.

On Friday, it was a chance for both agencies to work together.

They started conducting the drill around 7:15 a.m. The scenario: What to do if two armed gunmen got into the school and started opening fire.

"Even though it's unlikely that it could happen here, it just has to happen once," said Chief Elique. "There has been an increase in these types of incidents in the nation, unfortunately. And things that were unheard of, someone attacking an elementary or grammar school now seem to be, I won't say the norm, but people are engaged in that type of activity. So we have got to be very vigilant and always be very prepared."

The drill took less than minutes. They did this on a day when no classes were in session because they did not want to be disruptive to students and teachers. They say the panic such a drill might cause in kids would not be beneficial. And this drill did bring to light some things officers need to work on.

Officer Bert Hughes, with Metro, said that they have some communication issues they can improve on. He also said that they could try to understand the layout of the school better. But overall, both agencies were pleased and glad that they got to do this training.

"It's good to make mistakes while in training, so we minimize and not have any mistakes in a real world event," said Officer Hughes.

The UNLV Police Department and Metro planned to conduct a more in-depth review at a later time. They plan to do a similar drill at the UNLV Preschool over the summer.