Local law enforcement trained to respond to emergencies like the Sandy Hook shootings held drills in Western New York for the first time after years of traveling to Albany for training. YNN's Meg Rossman has more on the Erie County Sheriff's active shooter training and why it was moved to Hamburg.
HAMBURG, N.Y. — "This is not just about school shootings,” Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard said. “This is training for any active shooter."
It's also training Howard said changed dramatically since Columbine, and Wednesday officers from state and local law enforcement took part in a two-day drill at the Erie County Fairgrounds.
"They're being trained today on an individual response, on if they were the first officer on the scene,” he said.
"We'd like the officers to see something like this, prior to actually being in a situation or an event where there's all kinds of chaos."
Thirty officers took part in the simulation that typically sends them more than 250 miles away to train with Homeland Security officers. Howard asked that it be moved to Hamburg to save time and include others as well.
"Back in January, we made a request of the U.S. Office of Homeland Security to bring it to Western New York with the understanding that we would share it with other law enforcement agencies."
State Police, Orchard Park, Town of Hamburg and Parks Police also took part, learning to handle an active shooter situation like that at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown Connecticut and avoid simulated ammunition.
"We'd like the officers to see something like this, prior to actually being in a situation or an event where there is all kinds of chaos,” Town of Hamburg Police Lieutenant Pete Dienes said. "It's as close as you can get to real stressful conditions."
Howard said the simunition, as he calls it, is designed to let officers know they can still respond if even if they've been struck.
"If you don't, you're going to get stung by one of these projectiles, probably like getting hit with a baseball or wax bullet," he said. "The only thing that's going to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."
He said all sheriffs’ deputies on the day-shift will be trained within the next two weeks.