Local police discuss active shooter response protocols inside schools

We spoke with local police to see what their protocols are for an active shooter inside a school building.
Published: Jun. 7, 2022 at 6:51 PM EDT
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WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - New information coming out of Uvalde, TX has placed new focus on the actions of police during the deadly mass school shooting last month. We spoke with local police to see what their protocols are for an active shooter inside a school building.

The West Springfield Police Department trains twice a year for situations like the tragic one in Uvalde. They said Massachusetts protocols seem to be different than the ones in Texas.

New details have emerged from the tragic shooting of 19 students and 2 teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, TX. A teacher from inside a classroom where shots were fired said he won’t ever forgive the law enforcement officers who responded that day. He questioned why they didn’t jump in sooner when the gunman entered the building at 11:33 a.m. Instead, they engaged the shooter at 12:50 p.m.

It has local police departments analyzing what their response would be.

“We’re going in as soon as we can. Time is of the essence here,” said West Springfield Police Sgt. Joseph LaFrance.

West Springfield Police trains approximately twice a year for situations like the one in Texas. Their protocols match the protocols of departments across the Bay State.

“Here in western Mass. and all of Massachusetts, we engage the active shooter. We aren’t waiting for a command staff approval to go in,” LaFrance noted.

During their training, the police department makes the situation as realistic as possible and uses paint bullets and imitates real life scenarios.

“It’s very intense because you’re actually firing paint balls essentially out of special handguns. There’s a lot of role-playing involved and your adrenaline really pumps,” LaFrance noted.

They are trained to engage the shooter right away and do whatever they can to distract them from hurting any children or staff.

“You need to get in the school and engage and distract and hopefully stop the threat as soon as possible,” LaFrance said.

That teacher in Uvalde also said there was no amount of training that would’ve prepared them for that tragic day. We spoke with Holyoke Mayor Joshua Garcia, who agreed, but he said it’s all school officials can do right now to keep their students and staff safe until change is made.

“We shouldn’t have to do this. We shouldn’t live in a place where we have to plan these things. It’s the reality and the things that we need to do,” Garcia said.

As for future active shooter training, the West Springfield Police Department plans on doing one at the old Coburn Elementary School this summer before the building is torn down.