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Active shooter training 'always changing' for Onondaga County Sheriff's deputies

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO Public Media
Officers train for an active shooter.

Members of the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office are training for different active shooter scenarios. Lt. Paul Brennan said the ways in which officers respond to shootings are always changing.

"This is different than the last time we did active shooter training," Brennan said.

On Tuesday, officers in road patrol used simunitions, replica handguns shooting small plastic projectiles, as they moved through a scenario in a vacant building, simulating a group of people detained by someone with a gun. Officers entered and confronted the suspect.

“The goal is to train the responding officers to stop the killing, whether it’s contain, detain or shoot,” Brennan said. 

Active shooter training in a building changed after the Columbine High School shooting in 1999, according to Brennan. As more shootings occur, like the one at a high school in Parkland, Florida earlier this year, Brennan said different techniques are developed as to how officers should respond.

“Originally, after Columbine, the thought was the first four officers go in," Brennan said. "Somewhere along the line it said, you can’t wait for four officers. If someone is dying, if a shooting is happening, the first officer that arrives there is supposed to go in and end the threat.”

The sheriff’s office holds active shooter training classes for its members inside and outside on a regular basis. Trainees get multiple runs, so they do not have the same scenario twice. 

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.