Chubbuck police train for active-shooter situations at Pine Ridge Mall

Jun 5th, 2017 | By | Category: Featured
Officers with the Chubbuck Police Department hold an active-shooter training exercise at the Pine Ridge Mall on May 23.

Officers with the Chubbuck Police Department hold an active-shooter training exercise at the Pine Ridge Mall on May 23.

By David Ashby
Dashby@journalnet.com

CHUBBUCK — If the unthinkable happens, management of the Pine Ridge Mall and the Chubbuck Police Department say they’re prepared.

On May 23, the Police Department conducted a training exercise at the mall to help prepare officers for an active-shooter situation. The exercise was held in the early morning before business hours began.

During the active-shooter training exercise, the mall’s staff and the merchants were invited to watch and observe Chubbuck police in action.

For Drake Taylor, Pine Ridge Mall’s new general manager, watching the active-shooter exercise being conducted in his workplace was loud and exhilarating. But it was also reassuring to know that local police were there promoting public safety.

“We want to be the centerpiece of the community,” Taylor said. “We want to bring people to the mall, and they need to feel safe and confident of our local law enforcement’s ability to handle all types of threatening situations.”

Taylor said the mall and its management company, the Chicago-based Capital Real Estate Services, takes the safety of its visitors and staff very seriously.

In the post-9/11 world, having an emergency action plan in the workplace to deal with active-shooter situations is becoming far more common. More and more companies are developing such plans and training employees on how to stay safe during a mass shooting.

“In addition to having a fire evacuation plan, businesses should also have plans in place for all kinds of emergency events,” Taylor said.

The FBI and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security both offer human resource professionals a variety of training resources on active-shooter preparedness.

Some of the training topics include how to respond when law enforcement arrives on the scene, how to recognize potential workplace violence before it happens and the responsibilities of managers if an active-shooter situation occurs.

For those who witnessed the May 23 active-shooter training exercise, it provided a glimpse into how local police would confront and neutralize a threat posed by a mass shooting in a public place.

In a video provided by Pine Ridge Mall management depicting one of the exercises, two officers carrying assault rifles assumed the active-shooter roles. As the deafening shots echo through the mall corridors, a woman impersonating a shopper runs and screams for her life.

That’s when the police arrive on the scene in droves.

Starting at one corridor of the mall, officers with their guns drawn approach the shooter. More shots are fired and before long, the shooters are lying on the floor. Then the men pretending to be the assailants are disarmed at gunpoint.

The Chubbuck Police Department conducts these active-shooter exercises one to two times each year, with as many officers participating as possible. Though they have used the mall several times in the past for these exercises, they have also practiced in other locations in the community.

“We like to get into different venues in town to get used to the layout and design of the buildings,” Chubbuck Police Lt. Bill Guiberson said. “The goal for all of our officers is to experience an active-shooting exercise in a controlled environment where we can debrief and talk about it afterwards.”

Obviously, live ammunition is not used in the exercises. Instead, the police department uses non-toxic, non-lethal Simunition rounds, which operate like small paintballs that leave small blue splatters upon impact.

The whole idea is to create the most authentic real-world training environment as possible.

“It’s something we hope we never have to use, but our officers will be prepared if it does,” Guiberson said, noting that the police department also ensures its personnel are trained on a variety of counter-terrorism tactics, such as explosive-device recognition.

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