Northeast Ohio training center prepares law enforcement for possibility of active shooter

Published: May. 24, 2023 at 7:46 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - There was a time, pre-coronavirus, even before the year 2000, when schools were considered a safe haven for students and teachers.

But in today’s world, gun violence has found its way into those spaces.

School shootings have become the norm in our society.

For every incident, school districts and law enforcement are constantly looking for ways to minimize or eliminate the threat.

No one wants to be involved in an active shooter event, but the Public Safety Training Center on the Cuyahoga Community College campus in Parma Heights is helping to train first responders on how to handle such incidents.

Safety Director Steve Hammett said the state-of-the-art training facility has tools available for first responders to be at their most prepared and efficient if an active shooter event happens here in Northeast Ohio.

“We’ve been able to provide agencies with the most realistic dynamic simulation training in the area. It’s 21st-century training. The technology is amazing, is constantly evolving,” Hammett said.

That evolution includes police responding to the threat, immediately.

“Years ago, it was show up, take a perimeter position, and perhaps call-in Special Weapons and weapons and tactical teams,” Hammett said. “Now you respond, you’re trained and prepared to go in and save lives.”

The crown jewels of the training facility are a five-screen simulator and virtual reality.

Both have over 200 scenarios where trainees have to make split-second decision on certain scenarios, either as an individual or as a team.

Tri-C Police Chief Clayton Harris oversees the training center and says because of the evolution in crime, adjustments and additions to the simulators are made often.

“Paying attention to what’s happening across the nation and then working on how to build that Lesson plan and then providing that Lesson plan to all of our instructors and then allowing them to use that in our training that we do here today,” Harris said.

The training is precise. Even if mistakes are made on the premises, officers are critiqued and the training continues until it’s done right.

“It’s evaluated by the officer in charge of the training officer, and usually we go through an evaluation form, a checklist, and if we see there’s some areas that probably need to be worked on corrected, then that officer is pulled off. Sometimes the entire team,” Harris said.

Harris said he wants every trainee to be confident and unwavering when leaving the Safety Training Center.

Especially if the day comes when lives have to be saved in an active shooter incident.

“We want the officer to lead out of here on a positive note. That he can do the job and can do it effectively,” Harris said.