AMU Emergency Management Law Enforcement Original Public Safety

Conducting Active Shooter Simulation Training at Schools

By Dr. Jarrod Sadulski
Faculty Member, Criminal Justice

Active shooter incidents are the most challenging situations for law enforcement, because these events often occur without warning. Typically, an active shooter uses a firearm to kill or injure as many people as possible in a confined space like a school, church, or movie theater, prior to the arrival of law enforcement.

Active shooter incidents are usually over in a relatively short period of time. According to the Department of Homeland Security, active shooter events typically end within 10 to 15 minutes. A prompt and adequate response by law enforcement to stop the shooter, however, can significantly mitigate the loss of life as the incident unfolds.

Real World Active Shooter Training on School Grounds

Active shooter incidents at schools are especially challenging for three reasons:

Due to the challenging nature of active shooter incidents at schools, law enforcement officers must be mentally and physically prepared to immediately respond to a school shooting. For example, officers should have policies and protocols in place for immediate entry into the school to stop the shooter.

In addition, officers should conduct active shooter drills on school campuses when students are not present. This way, officers learn the school’s layout and are prepared to respond if a school shooting occurs within their jurisdiction.

More Law Enforcement Agencies Holding Active Shooter Drills at Schools

Active shooter training is beginning to occur around the U.S. According to WKYT News, Georgetown Police in Kentucky conducted a simulated school shooting response at Great Crossing High School on July 19. One of the volunteers participating in the training, Richard King, stated that it was much more intense than he would have ever imagined.

RELATED: We Need a Comprehensive Plan for Active Shooter Incidents

During the event, volunteers ran through the hallways as officers attempted to locate the active shooter. Afterward, police officers provided feedback, saying that the training helped to identify opportunities to improve their response to active shooters.

Similar training was conducted by the Miami-Dade Schools Police Department at Coral Gables Senior High School on July 15, according to WSVN News. This event involved a “mass casualty training” at the school, and takeaways from the active shooter training will be utilized to improve future training for police officers.

Another drill was conducted in Dallas, Texas. For this event, paramedics joined police officers at a middle school.

RELATED: Uvalde School Shooting: Insights from the Investigation

The Benefits of Active Shooter Training

Active shooter training is necessary. It mentally prepares officers for responding to the worst type of crime scene that they will ever experience in their careers, especially if children are among the victims.

Ideally, this type of training should include role players with simulated injuries; police officers will first need to stop the shooter and then immediately provide aid to the shooter’s victims during a drill. Active shooter training will also improve communications among officers and supervisors during a real incident.

Ultimately, law enforcement agencies across the U.S. should consider holding active shooter drills at schools. They should also include paramedics in these drills to improve coordination if the unthinkable ever occurs.

Jarrod Sadulski

Dr. Sadulski is an Associate Professor within our School of Security and Global Studies. He has over two decades in the field of criminal justice. His expertise includes training on countering human trafficking, maritime security, effective stress management in policing and narcotics trafficking trends in Latin America. Jarrod frequently conducts in-country research and consultant work in Central and South America on human trafficking and current trends in narcotics trafficking. He also has a background in business development. Jarrod can be reached through his website at for more information.

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