BLOOMINGTON — Local police officials say they have the training necessary to react to an active shooter incident, but note that prevention is the key to stopping any attack.
On Wednesday night, a gunman, identified as 28-year-old Ian David Long, opened fire in a bar in Thousand Oaks, Calif., and then turned the gun on himself, police said. He was found dead along with 12 people at the Borderline Bar and Grill, a country dance bar holding a weekly “college night.”
“For us, the big factor is always prevention and we are always asking ourselves if we are doing enough to support our faculty, staff, students and others on helping to prevent such incidents and be aware of those who are considering harming themselves or others,” said Aaron Woodruff, Illinois State University police chief. “The hope is to help them and prevent these types of incidents occurring here.”
Police in Bloomington, Normal and ISU all said their training includes active shooter scenarios.
“Basically, after Sept. 11, 2001, we changed everything with critical incidents,” said John Fermon, the public information officer for the Bloomington Police Department. “We have an active shooter training classes where we go into discussions about what we would do if something happened here so that we are always prepared.”
The California shooting was the deadliest mass shooting in the country since 17 people were killed at a Parkland, Fla. school nine months ago, but came less than two weeks after 11 people were killed at a synagogue in Pittsburgh.
“After an incident like this, I am sure it is discussed at roll calls, particularly when an officer dies, as was the case with this situation,” said Normal Assistant Police Chief Eric Klingele. “Sometimes, through our police communications and websites, we can get a little more information than the public might receive, but we take that and might discuss what happened and speculate about what we would do here.”
Woodruff said that no two situations are the same.
“We have active shooter drills and make information available for the students and try to do as much as we can to prepare for every situation,” he said.
All three agreed that stopping troubled people before they harm others is the key.
“We talk about crisis intervention and our training to find those that are sending signals,” Klingele added. “We make referrals and discuss the resources that are available. But the problem is that we can’t force everyone we come into contact with into treatment. If we know of a certain threat, we can react to that, of course.”