Over 60 officers from 17 law enforcement agencies converged on the Montclair State campus in August to rehearse their response to an “active shooter” scenario. Organized by the Montclair State University Police Department, the Hawthorne Police Department, the Wanaque Police Department and the New Jersey State Police, the day-long event also included participation by both the Essex and Passaic County Sheriff’s Departments, as well as other county and municipal law enforcement agencies.
The training took place in and around Bohn Hall and consisted of the officers taking turns role-playing shooters, victims or responders with police trainers evaluating the officers on their work. Particular attention was paid to speed, teamwork and the overall coordination of the operations. For safety, that area of the campus was sealed off for the day and all the participant’s handguns were loaded with plastic pellets filled with a detergent-based solution.Montclair State University Police Chief Paul Cell said that law enforcement agencies have been running preparation activities of this sort for the past five years but that this event was unique because it was the first time that two counties, local police departments and the State Police had trained together on responding to such incidents. With the increased emphasis on school shooting response training in the wake of the Virginia Tech tragedy, it is likely that more inter-agency coordinated-response training like this event will be held around the nation.