WARREN, NJ - It’s a sad commentary that active shooter drills are now a necessity at American work places, public and semi-public buildings. But everyone seems to agree, it’s better to have a clue what to do if the worst happens.
The Warren Township Police Department recently (Oct. 5, 2017) spent the morning at Mt. Bethel Village, 130 Mt. Bethel Avenue, a residence and day program for adults with developmental disabilities and traumatic brain injuries, assessing the building’s readiness for a possible attack by an armed person bent on causing death and injury. Sgt. Dan Gleeson and Officer Bryan Horst, both also members of Somerset County SWAT, went room to room to check whether doors were locked and residents and staff secured themselves as best they could once the “lock down” command was given.
“I never thought as a police officer I’d be doing something like this,” Sgt. Gleeson told staff who gathered afterwards for a debriefing. “But today, it’s necessary.”
With the help of Jim Kerins, Mt. Bethel’s Building Services Director and a former EMT, the officers did a building check, then showed videos and spoke of readiness to the assembled staff including Executive Director Carolann Garafola, who is also the Mayor of Warren Township.
“We are blessed with a police department that is proactive,” said Mrs. Garafola. “We really appreciate them coming in and spending the morning with us. It’s the kind of information that’s necessary in the world we live in today.”
The main message at this and similar drills across the country is the mantra, RUN, HIDE, FIGHT. At the first sign of trouble, civilians are urged to get to a place of relative safety, lock and barricade doors, turn off lights and stay quiet, escape if possible and call 911.
“We are three minutes away,” said Sgt. Gleeson. “And all our officers are trained to enter the building and look for the individual. There’s no longer a mandate to try to negotiate with an active shooter. The mandate is to do what’s necessary to neutralize him to prevent further injuries and deaths.”