AKRON-- A unique portable training facility is giving police officers across Ohio an opportunity to train for a scenario they hope to never encounter.
Officers with the University of Akron and Summa Health Systems are the first to use the new facility in a three-day course. It prepares them for different scenarios including facing an active shooter inside a school.
It is a scenario University Of Akron Captain Dale Gooding said is unfortunately on officers minds more than ever.
"It seems nearly every week you turn on the television and there's something that has happened somewhere else in the country. It doesn't have to be schools or hospitals anymore. It's movie theaters; it's military bases; it's a variety of places. As law enforcement, we know it can happen anywhere," said Gooding.
Active shooter training is not something new.
What is unique about this training is that it involves a portable simulator made up of removable panels doors and windows that can be set up almost anywhere.
"The unique thing here is that it is portable. That we can bring this to the agency and if an agency does not have a suitable structure or vacant building where they can do this training, we can bring it to them," said Instructor Joe Sidoti.
The portable units are made available through the office of Attorney General Mike DeWine.
The units and the training are paid for using proceeds from Ohio's casinos.
"Everything here is provided free of cost to the agency. That means that the officers benefit because they get free training, and the citizens benefit because their local tax dollars do not have to go to pay for this training," said Sidoti.
Akron officers were training for both a scenario where there could be an active shooter in a school, and also for a scenario where a citizen tells them they believe someone has broken into a building and may still be inside.
"This stuff is important because building searches are kind of unique in law enforcement, in that it really requires a lot of teamwork and close coordination. No one can really do this alone, so if we are close together we can protect ourselves as we move throughout the structure," said Sidoti.
Officers hope they will never have to use what they learn, but instructors hope that they are trained well enough that if they are ever in such a scenario they are able to react appropriately.
"We all know when certain circumstances arise we always tend to fall back on what we've been trained, and certainly these situations we encounter today will help us," said Gooding.
"The only way to develop that close coordination is in a training environment like this," said Sidoti, concluding "You can't do it out on the street where the feedback might be you getting shot."