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January 05. 2013 8:28PM

Drill gives Lakes Region police preparation for school safety

BRISTOL -- With the help of state police and a few high school students, town police officers received special "active shooter" training Friday and Saturday to ensure they are prepared for situations like the mass killings in Newtown, Conn., last month.

Bristol Police Sgt. Joseph Guerriero said his department asked state police trainers to conduct what is called an "Active Shooter Training Drill" in light of the events at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, which left 27 dead in the school, including the shooter.

"Most of our officers have had active shooter training before, but in light of what happened, we asked the state police to give us further training," Guerriero said.

"We have three schools in our town," he added. "This was to help us prepare for a rapid response in an active shooter situation, so that we can neutralize a threat should a situation present itself in one of our schools or in a local business."

The training took place on Friday and Saturday at Newfound Regional High School, and involved real-life simulations of events similar in nature to the classrooms at Sandy Hook, he said. Several students were asked and volunteered to pose as students in some of the simulations, though Guerriero said he could not describe the trainings in detail.

"The students in our simulations were never in any danger, of course," he said. "They were very helpful in giving us a real-life training model."

State police provide such training sessions for police agencies in the state when the training is requested, Guerriero said.

Most of the town's 10-officer staff took part in the training, which involved video and live gunfire, though the officers were shooting blanks.

"None of the students were there when the shooting was going on, and there was no live ammunition used," he said.

The event did not likely cause any trauma for the students, either, he said.

"The students volunteered and they understood what was going on and the need for what we were doing," Guerriero said.

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Dan Seufert may be reached at dseufert@newstote.com.

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