Avon Police Department to host active shooter training this summer
Eagle County first responders seek community volunteers for training
On March 27 at the Covenant School in Nashville, a private Christian elementary school, a heavily-armed assailant shot and killed three students and three adults. Within eight minutes, police responded to the scene and the shooter was taken down.
In the wake of this incident, and other instances involving active shooters, first responders — including those in Eagle County — train to respond to such events, yet hope to never have to put the training to use.
“We looked at that, we saw really good technical expertise by those officers and what they did and how they were searching and how they got to the shooter quick,” Avon Police Chief Greg Daly said.
Every year, the Avon Police Department hosts an active shooter training that involves all Eagle County law enforcement agencies as well as first responders such as fire, and emergency medical services. Typically, these trainings last a week, and take place at a local school. Daly said with regular active shooter trainings, agencies will know how to best work together in the event of an active shooting.
On May 24, 2022, an assailant killed 19 students and three adults at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Responding agencies were criticized for lack of coordination in handling the incident as it took over 70 minutes from the first 911 call for officers to enter the school and take down the shooter. In the fallout of such tragedy, Daly said law enforcement agencies have had the opportunity to learn from what went wrong there and reinforce better practices during trainings.
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“Not on our watch, you know,” Daly said. “We’re not going to have a 47-minute delay. We’re going to train like Nashville — you are racing as fast and as tactically safe as you can to get to the shooter and to neutralize that shooter from killing anybody else.”
Daly said he has responded to two active shooter situations throughout the entirety of his 27-year career. The last active shooter situation in Eagle County was in 2009 when an assailant shot and killed one man and injured three others at the Sandbar in West Vail.
“I don’t want the third one, but I train for it, and we are very committed,” Daly said.
The annual active shooter training that gathers Eagle County responders is not the only time local law enforcement agencies are refreshing practices and honing skills for an active shooter scenario.
“We train on a daily basis to effectively deal with it,” Daly said.
The annual training hosted by the Avon Police Department provides the opportunity for all the local responding agencies to practice together — maintaining inter-agency cohesion and communication in hopes of avoiding a delayed response like what occurred in Uvalde.
Additionally, responders have the opportunity to practice moving lightning quick.
“The one thing is when you jump out of the car and you’re trying to get there quickly,” Daly said.
He said local law enforcement agencies are equipping police cars with tools that officers can grab fast and that work effectively in a high-stakes situation like with an active shooter.
“Effectively, an officer can grab what we call a breaching shotgun and click it to their vest so they run up that first stairwell and they could get through the door,” Daly said. “We are trying to have each of our officers have a breaching shotgun — they can blow the locks off a door to get in.”
Daly said every Avon Police Officer also carries shields and an AR-15 — which he said is the “worst case scenario” type of weapon.
“On the basis that you are having to deal with a criminal who has a rifle, we need to be able to match that force with our own level of force in our response,” Daly said.
On gun calls, Daly said officers are trained to go for their rifles because they can be much more accurate from a greater distance.
“The red sight that’s on a rifle has a lot more accuracy than a handgun at 25 yards,” Daly said. “If you’re having to shoot your handgun, that’s sort of the max comfort level for a handgun shoot. For a rifle, you can go out to 100 yards and be comfortable with that — you’re going to get a torso shot on somebody in that regard.”
Community members who want to assist local first responders in Avon Police Department’s annual active shooter training are encouraged to volunteer their time to be role players.
“The more role players we can have, the more realistic we can make the training,” Daly said.
Those interested in participating as role players can sign up with the Avon Police Department.