BOISE -- Since the Columbine school shooting tragedy in 1999, police agencies across the country have revamped procedures and now train specifically to handle school shootings.
Officers obviously never want to deal with this type of situation, but local police are confident in how officers here are trained for worst-case scenarios. They also say they're prepared because they've taken an oath to protect the community and would absolutely go in harm's way.
For all of us who have children, we understand the situation itself, and we want to get in there because we know it could be our kids, as well as anyone else's, ISP Master Corporal Jim Love, Firearms Training Specialist, said.
Love says every officer who comes through the state academy trains specifically for active shooters. Three days of academy are dedicated handling that type of situation. It's something that's changed significantly since the late 90s when routine officers were trained to wait for specialists, like a SWAT team, to arrive.
Sitting back and waiting no longer happens. We need to arrive, we need to make entry into this location, and we need to stop at all cost whoever is doing whatever they are doing to save the lives of whoever is in there, Love said.
Local agencies often train with role-playing scenarios. Meridian Police participated in one such training this summer.
Sheriff Gary Raney says when he was a deputy years ago, trainings for school shootings never happened, but they are now invaluable.
We'll have role players who are active shooters. They'll be moving around, they'll be engaging the deputies, all kinds of different scenarios. But scenarios that are realistic so when deputies do respond, they're prepared to take action. Because one of the things we know is when there is an active shooter, we've got to get in there and do something about it right away, Raney said.
While police are trained to handle a shooter, Raney says the public's job is to report and then stay safe.
When in doubt, give us a call. Let us sort it out. Then be in a position of safety. Don't jeopardize yourself. Don't be a hero. Protect yourself and protect those around you and help us, Raney said.
Raney and Love both say good witness descriptions of suspects and locations are extremely important for their work and keeping people safe.
Though ISP says agency active shooter policies are all very similar, there is no uniform training for all law enforcement statewide. That is something instructors are already working on possibly getting into standard state training.