WASHINGTON - D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier recently made national headlines when talking about a change in tactics when it comes to active shooting situations.
On Wednesday, Lanier along with Mayor Muriel Bowser personally attended a training session at the D.C. Police Academy that was open to the public.
“It's devastating that we haven’t found a way as a nation that is as advanced as ours to deal with gun violence,” said Bowser.
Just hours after the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, the mayor tried her hand at simulated active shooter training.
“We're in a $7 million training facility and so this is the type of investment that our city has decided to make -- to make sure our police officers are the best trained and can deal with those situations,” Bowser said.
This event had been planned for some time. Community leaders, bloggers and members of the public were invited to attend a session at the D.C. Police Training Academy in Southwest D.C. It is part of an ongoing program to encourage police and community engagement.
“Being able to see things from their perspective I think is very important,” said Drew Schneider. “Understanding the training that MPD and D.C. go through, I have confidence in their ability. What happened at the Navy Yard, I have confidence in MPD being able to respond effectively.”
Several scenarios provided insight about what officers face when responding to an active shooting.
Most active shooters claim lives within the first few minutes before police arrive. Chief Lanier recently made national headlines with this advice to citizens: run, hide, fight.
“You've got really three options if this happens,” said Lanier. “One -- run and get out if you can. Two -- hide and barricade yourself behind a locked door if you can. But if there is no other alternative and you can’t get out and you can’t hide, your other option is to fight. It’s an individual choice you have to make.
“If people don’t know what to do and nobody is ever talking about it, then they freeze because they don’t know what to do.”
There has been some back and forth between the police union and police officials about the staffing shortage the department is facing. Lanier maintains it is largely due to anticipated retirements.
In the event of a terrorist attack or shooting scenario, she said the city is well prepared.
“It took me six years to get this facility built so that we could come here and we could train with our partners from Park Police and Capitol Police and any other agency around the region, and we do that,” said Lanier. “We have a very well-trained, large police presence in the city and I don't think people should feel for one second that we're not prepared.”
Learn more about D.C. police’s Community Engagement Academy Initiative here: http://mpdc.dc.gov/page/community-engagement-academy