The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Officers practice for active shooter


December 10, 2015

Diana Zimmerman

Law enforcement officers participated in active shooter training last week at Johnson Park. Above, after getting the active shooter volunteer to surrender and lay on the ground, this officer/student in the Single Officer Active Shooter Instructor Course pushes the gun away and continues to check the scene while other officer/students observe.

A deputy and a reserve officer from the Wahkiakum County Sheriff's Office took part in a Single Officer Active Shooter Instructor Training Course along with nine other officers from Washington, Oregon, and Alaska last week at Johnson Park in the old Rosburg school.

For five days, Mark Hake and Darren Droullard joined the other men in classroom and scenario training to improve their own response skills as a single officer while learning how to instruct the course at their own agency.

On Friday, the officers spent much of the day going through a myriad of possible scenarios, while Instructor Nick Minzghor looked on. Five days into it, the officers were practicing training each other.

"Mark (Howie) and Steve (Marshall) worked hard for six months to get this program here," Penny Gregory, a Westend resident and scenario volunteer said. "I'm so glad Mark wanted to do this. That outfit out of Seattle is great."

That outfit is AST, LLC. AST stands for Active Shooter Training. Minzghor, who owns and manages the company, is a Marine veteran and spent 27 years with the King County Sheriff's Office. He spent six years on a tactical team as a sniper and as a member of the Tactical Training Unit and has had many hours of training in specialized arms and tactical training.

"AST offers classes all around the states," Sheriff Mark Howie said. "They just need a police department or agency to host them. The Rosburg school was ideal. It's hard to find empty schools to train in."

Officers use Simunitions or Airsoft guns to train in these scenarios in place of live rounds. Everyone, from students to instructors and volunteers to visiting press, wore safety glasses. Safety vests were given to anyone not actively in a scenario. Volunteers learned to wear long sleeves and layers to protect their bodies from plastic projectiles.

"We were in a classroom enacting a hostage situation and screaming, when a student would come in and tell us to get down before dealing with the active shooter," Gregory said. "One student was trigger happy. We learned to get down the moment he walked in the door so we didn't get hit."

He got better as the week wore on. As did they all, according to Gregory.

"It was hard on the old body," Gregory laughed. "We were there to create a stimulus for the responders. We were there to distract, to be noisy and to make each scenario more real and intense for them."

Even after getting up and down and then up again, crawling on her belly, standing for long periods of time with her hands over her head and getting hit in the face with a chair, Gregory thinks she'd volunteer again if AST returns to run another course in Rosburg.

"I had a good time," she said. "I'd do it again. I just hope we can get more volunteers next time."

There were 30 volunteers from around Wahkiakum County who acted as role players throughout the week, according to Howie.

"It was an excellent class," Howie said. "It caters to smaller agencies. The majority of agencies in the US are small. In an active shooter situation, there is no time to wait for a team. The goal is to stop the threat as soon as possible. It's crucial that we get as much training as we can."


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