Police officers and firefighters gathered at the Burbank Adult School this week to hone their skills in a two-day training that focused on an active shooter situation as well as working with a K-9 and helicopter.
One of the classroom aspects of the training reviewed the roles of officers and firefighters when arriving at a scene where a shooter has been reported.
Burbank Police Det. Todd Burke continued through the various slides with Det. John Kaefer Wednesday morning, reminding the group that different agencies with different levels of training would be present in an active shooter such a situation
Attendees learned, or in most cases were reminded, given that many of the attendees had several years of experience, of how fluid the situation is and why addressing possible strategies before the need to employ them would not only save time, but help everyone at an often chaotic scene be that much more prepared.
Police department spokesman Sgt. Claudio Losacco said the department’s S.W.A.T team, trained with Burbank firefighters and this was now a review with both firefighters and officers present.
The group then gathered outside the school and broke up into two smaller groups to begin searching for a possible shooter.
The purpose of the training, Burbank Police Officer Adam Chang said just as the first group was getting into formation, is to remind officers of what they should be looking for and how to move.
A loud, firecracker-like bang was officers’ cue that the training had commenced.
The first group methodically made their way to the first classroom, talking to each other as they approached the closed door, surrounding it, opening it, and then entering the unknown.
Supervisors and this reporter followed.
Police searched closets at the back of the room and a desk at the front of the room.
Another loud bang rang out and officers ran to the exit, peered around the door and continued to follow the direction of the “shot.”
They quickly made their way back into the building, moving past children’s toys and small desks, and into another classroom. Police were soon able to surround and apprehend the shooter.
Supervisors debriefed with the group, discussing areas of improvement and aspects that went well.
As some officers and firefighters continued to train outside, including with cadets who held signs denoting they were gunshot wound victims, other officers were back in the classroom.
The group watched training videos that showed officers searching for a suspect, how a K-9 is used in different situations, and how a helicopter aids officers on the ground.
Conducting this aspect of the training was Burbank K-9 officer John Embleton, who also reminded officers to be prepared — with extra equipment and for the weather.
Embleton then led a group of officers on a search for a suspect with Steevo, one of two Burbank police dogs.
As Steevo began sniffing and searching, officers followed.
A scream was heard and Steevo had located the suspect, with officers positioning themselves closer to the suspect. Steevo obeyed his handler’s commands to release the suspect and return to his handler, and officers then surrounded and apprehended the suspect, who in the training wore protective body gear.
Another group trained with a K-9 from the San Fernando Police Dept. Losacco said Glendale and San Fernando officers often train with Burbank as the agencies provide support to each other.
In this training, Alex, a K-9 from the San Fernando PD, alerted officers that the suspect had been located. But as officers were about to move toward the suspect, Alex ran back to the suspect and would not let go.
His handler had to remove the suspect from Alex’s bite, and officers learned at that moment how to deal with such a situation. The officer who was posing as the suspect did not keep his hands up to signal to Alex that he was no longer a threat, Losacco later explained.
Losacco said the information presented in the training was not new.
“We’ve seen the videos before,” Losacco said of the search and K-9 deployment videos. But it’s important to rehash, he said.
“We need to talk about it and practice it, or you lose it,” he added. “It’s like muscle memory. We need to physically engage in an action.”