Police use old school for shooter training
The downtown building that taught students for half a century before closing this summer was a learning venue once again last week. Eudora police and other area law enforcement officers turned the former Eudora Middle School building into a hands-on classroom.
Eudora's police department was host to officers from Kansas University, and Jefferson and Douglas counties for a training course specific to a school building. The classes trained officers to respond to an active shooter in a school.
"This is something that's come up since (19)99," said Eudora Police Chief Greg Dahlem.
Since Columbine and other publicized school shootings, Dahlem said training on how to stop a shooter had become more prevalent.
"The way you respond to an active shooter situation is different than how you enter a building with a burglar," he said.
During the Columbine incident, Dahlem said law enforcement officers were criticized for how they handled the situation, namely for how long they took before entering the building.
"Those officers were taught the same way I was taught at the academy," he said. "Columbine changed things a lot."
That was why specific training like that which the officers went though at Eudora last week was important, he said.
Taught by area officers and using other officers and ROTC students from KU as victims, the students went through various school shooter scenarios. Although Dahlem couldn't be specific about tactics, he said the 40-some officers learned what could go wrong and how to deal with it.
"Until you go through that type of thing, you never know what you'll go up against," he said. "Any officer that has even a remote possibility of having to respond to a sitation like this can see what can go wrong and how to correct it."
A similar training session had taken place at Baldwin High School, but Dahlem said Eudora was ideal because the main portion of the former middle school building was being used for storage and didn't house students, which the officers might disrupt or who might themselves disrupt the training.
Moreover, being a former school the building provided a realistic setting for school shooter training.
"It's the perfect place to do that -- there's so many hallways and places to hide," Dahlem said. "You might as well put it to good use."