By Brendan Relaford
For The Sentinel 

Police, hoping for best, train for worst


March 27, 2019

Brendan Relaford

Goldendale Police went through an active shooter training drill Saturday at the Goldendale Middle School, practicing for a scenario no one wants to see.

Goldendale Police Chief Reggie Bartkowski focused on active-shooter scenarios in a six-hour training-session drill on Saturday, March 23. Such drills are now common in schools across the country as a proactive measure to ensure that responders understand the rules and procedures for taking down a perpetrator and getting potential victims out of harm's way. Similar exercises take place in government buildings, churches, businesses and public gathering places, including family homes. Bartkowski says that on-site training in Goldendale includes the City Police, Klickitat County Sheriff's office, Goldendale Fire/EMT, and Washington Fish and Wildlife. Each department is on the same radio frequency, so each department can respond as quickly as possible.

Goldendale's training exercise began at 8 a.m. at the police station, where Bartkowski presented the scenario instructions via a PowerPoint presentation before the attendees moved to Goldendale Primary School to practice. He used students from elementary to high school and adults to play the relevant roles in situations that included classroom-to-classroom pursuit, lockdown measures and mass gatherings in the gym, library or cafeteria. They also practiced carrying out direct commands from upper-level officers and making split-second decisions when confronted with an untenable situation that must be resolved instantly, such as a distraught parent waving a knife while demanding access to his or her child.

In these drills, manikins are strategically placed in the hallways so Fire/EMT personnel can practice in concert with law enforcement in confined areas. Overhead cameras are used to send images in real time by Wi-Fi to the police station and police patrol cars, where officials monitor the action remotely and send back information to those on the ground. Known as the "eye in the sky," the camera surveillance allows deployed officers to move safely through blind spots, which are common in most indoor footprints. It also assists in the pursuit of a suspect who may be moving erratically through the venue. The training emphasizes speed, accuracy and de-escalation efforts, but it also considers the possibility of having to use lethal force.

The Goldendale School District's warning system consists of an auto-call sent out to parents or guardians informing them of the situation and instructing them to keep their distance and not interfere with the action until the shooting incident has been resolved.

Bartkowski was very pleased with the results of the exercise. "The departments on site worked well together both through communication and deployment of manpower and resources," he stated.

Active-shooter drill training is scheduled twice each calendar year. The next session will be in the fall.


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