MERIDIAN - A school shooting is something every parent dreads, but they are an unfortunate reality police must prepare for, and that's exactly what the Meridian Police Department did Thursday.
Police say it's a situation they hope they never have to respond to, but want to always be ready just in case they do: school shootings. On Thursday, law enforcement held a training exercise at Sawtooth Middle School for an active shooter.
"We want this as realistic as possible on our officers. We want their heart rates to go up. We want that adrenaline dump, so that they're prepared when they go into a real life situation that it doesn't seem absolutely new to them," Deputy Chief Tracy Basterrechea with the Meridian Police Department said.
Although, Thursday's exercise was just training, the police officers that participated were actually on duty at the time.
"They were removed of their actual weapons that they're using today. They were searched. They were given simulated, simunition guns, weapons and then they were searched again before they went into the school," Basterrechea said.
In a real life scenario the officers would not have been searched, the department did that for safety concerns. However, everything else on Thursday was made to seem real. They even turned on their body cameras.
"They're dealing with the kids who are hysterical, they're dealing with some of the role players who have been injured, maybe shot and they have to deal with that situation as far as getting somebody out," Basterrechea said.
One of those injured was Heritage Middle School teacher Karl Topping who had to act as if he'd been shot in the neck.
"I didn't think I was going to be carried down the stairs, but I was and that was quite interesting, but it made sense, if I'm code red you got to get me out of the building as quick as possible," Topping said.
West Ada schools go through lockdown drills every semester, but volunteers say nothing compares to Thursday's exercise.
"It's good to be able to go back and explain to other teachers what I experienced," Topping said.
He isn't the only one, the students plan to take back their experience in the drill as well.
"There are so many different things that could possibly happen and that the police needed to be prepared for every single possibility," student volunteer Mason Tolley said.
"Next time we have a lockdown drill I'm going to be taking it very, very seriously," student volunteer Nici Curry said.
It was an experience the students say they're honored to be a part of.
"It was just an amazing experience because it's something new. A lot of people don't ever get to do this and you get to experience something with the cops and you get to experience something that's real," Riley Menlove said.
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