Mt. Vernon active shooter drill takes more urgent tone in wake of Dallas shooting

Marcus Solis Image
Friday, July 8, 2016
Mount Vernon police practice active shooter drill
Marcus Solis has the latest details.

MOUNT VERNON (WABC) -- Regularly scheduled police training in Mount Vernon took on a more urgent tone Friday as officers practiced for an active shooter situation.

Investigators say the ambush in Dallas only highlights how important it is to be prepared.

It was close to the real thing as possible, with police officers firing simulated rounds during the drill.

"God willing, it doesn't happen," one officer said. "But if it is the real thing, we're somewhat prepared for it."

The massacre in Dallas, in which five officers were killed and seven others wounded, reminds us that it can happen at any time. And this in-service training at Mount Vernon High School was scheduled long ago, but recent events weighed heavily on the minds of the police officers.

"This is suiting up for the real thing," Detective Ed McCue said. "Becasuse the real thing is obviously happening."

In the scenario, police were looking for a suspect hiding in a classroom, while in Dallas, officers were ambushed. They are different circumstances, but both highlight the importance of training.

"Just kind of getting the guys in the mindset," Officer Michael Plunkett said. "You know what, be prepared. Be prepared in any situation, because it could conceivably happen."

The officers were reminded the importance of communication and teamwork as keys to staying safe, which is the same formula many say is the key to improving police-community relations at a time of deadly violence.

"Together, collectively, law enforcement and the community," one detective said. "If we don't partner and work together, it's not going to get better."

And that is why Mount Vernon Mayor Richards Thomas said drills like this are just one aspect to policing.

"Pop up parks, police officers walking the beat, stop and shake," he said. "These are all things that are going to add up to a safer environment."

Safer, hopefully, but with officers prepared for the worst.