WESTLAKE, Ohio (WJW) – Amid the recent mass shootings in Nashville and Louisville, dozens of SWAT officers from across Northeast Ohio gathered in Westlake for active shooter training.
“I would love to tell folks we got this, it’s never going to happen again, but unfortunately it’s going to so we have to prepare these officers for the inevitably that this could basically be coming to our doorstep,” said Pat Fiorilli, executive director of the Ohio Tactical Officers Association.
The two-day course is part of a state-sponsored program funded by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office through a school safety grant. Fiorilli said the goal is to train every SWAT officer in Ohio, a cost of more than a million dollars.
Active shooter training continues to evolve in order to adequately respond to mass shootings that are all too often a frequent reality.
“Training these types of officers, they’re going to be the ones, the leaders making those decisions so that we don’t have a Uvalde incident that happens in our state,” said Antonio Castillo, the instructor for the OTOA program.
Tuesday, officers ran drills inside the Westlake Police Department Training Facility, clearing rooms of bystanders while searching for the source of gunshots similar to what would happen in a real-life emergency response.
“We’re asking these officers to go into an ambush and that’s what they’re doing once they step over the threshold,” said Fiorilli. “They’re putting their lives on the line for the innocent people in the building… unfortunately, these active shooter events, they’re not going to go away and we need to train these officers to a different level.”
OTOA partnered with local companies including Akron-based Unit Solutions Inc., who donated nonlethal training equipment for officers.