NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - It’s the kind of training one hopes to never put to use.
The Rutgers University Police Department this week held two drills that simulated what would happen if there were an active shooter on campus. More than 100 RUPD officers, outside law enforcement members and faculty and staff members participated in the programs, which occurred Wednesday around the CAPS building near College Avenue and yesterday in the business school on Livingston Campus.
“The purpose of the scenario is to see if our officers can put their education into action,” RUPD Chief Kenneth Cop told TAPinto New Brunswick.
This training exercise comes on the heels of an incident last semester in which a man shot at a car in a Livingston Campus parking lot. The shooter, who had gotten into a fight with a man wielding a machete, then fled the area, only to be arrested days later.
Across the country, however, mass shootings on college campuses and elsewhere have resulted in an ever-growing number of fatalities in recent years.
That means Rutgers police and its local partners must prepare for whatever might come their way.
“I’d say the interest has picked up,” Cop said of the importance of live-action drills.
Training for an active shooter scenario begins before the in-person simulation. Officers receive a “baseline education” on how to respond to such an event, and then the drill acts as a sort of test, Cop said.
The day begins with a morning briefing before participants spread through the building and act as if everything's normal. Eventually, officers must respond to a “suspect,” using weapons that simulate the sound of gunfire.
All the while, higher-ups gauge the officers’ reactions to the faux crisis. Afterward, the department sits down to review their performance.
“This enhances the classroom or educational experience,” Cop said. “It puts what they learn into practice.”
Rutgers police received positive reviews for their work this week, he said.
Such drills occur on an almost-monthly basis, he said. RUPD plans to hold more in the future, though they have yet to pinpoint a specific date.