By EILEEN MCCLORY
A police officer heard gunshots in the depths of the Marathon Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Findlay and raced toward the sound.
In a room at the end of a hall, he encountered the gunman, wearing a police visor and a black police sweatshirt. Another man in the corner told the officer he’d been shot in the arm.
This was one of the scenarios played out this week as Findlay police officers trained for an active shooter situation. The gunman and the “victims” were all members of the Findlay Police Department.
With so many active shooter incidents in the United States, local police have trained for the possibility one may happen in Findlay.
More than 40 people, including Findlay police and other law enforcement officers, dispatchers, and other first responders were at the Marathon Center on Wednesday for the training.
The training is meant to help officers go into an active shooter situation alone.
A second training scenario was meant to improve police communication, said Sgt. Andrew Welch, who along with Sgt. Brian Dill ran the training.
Several years ago, Findlay police officers were trained to wait for four officers before going into an active shooter situation, Dill said.
But while police waited, people could be dying.
ALICE training, which shows citizens how to deal with an active shooter, includes training for law enforcement to enter such a situation alone.
ALICE stands for alert, lockdown, inform, counter and evacuate. Findlay City Schools uses the training.
RAIDER training, created by the same company that invented ALICE, is specifically for law enforcement and stands for rapid deployment, awareness, intervention, decisiveness, EMS and recovery.
RAIDER focuses on getting police officers to the scene as fast as possible, even if they are alone.
All the police officers at the Findlay Police Department have undergone ALICE and RAIDER training, Dill said, but just a handful are certified.
In the second scenario, four officers entered the auditorium of the Marathon Center. The first officer in the door was told he was shot in the leg, and a policeman playing a bystander also told officers he was hurt.
The next two officers had to figure out how to take out the gunman and also get their fellow officer and the bystander out of the auditorium. The fourth officer could be called in for backup.
Radios weren’t working well in the auditorium, so the goal was to get officers to talk to one another.
After each officer went through the simulation, Dill, Welch, Lt. Robert Ring and Chief John Dunbar gave the officers feedback on where improvements could be made.
Dispatchers also got involved in the training. The Findlay Police Department has a trailer set up as a mobile command center, which can be used in situations when dispatch needs to be on site.
Three dispatchers — Doreen Roesh, Melissa Johnston and Cari Price — were in the trailer, reading scripts to the officers. One dispatcher was on the radio, a second took notes and a third observed the scenarios.
“We’re getting the dispatchers involved so they can see what they’re dealing with,” Dill said.
Welch said the officers he worked with did not hesitate during the simulations, a positive response.
“Being how this is a new response, someone heard shots and ran right toward it,” Welch said.
Communication, though, is something the officers still need to work on, Dill said, both with dispatch and with other officers.
Dill and Welch said anyone who has questions about ALICE training, or wants more information about what they can do in an active shooter situation, can contact either one of them or Lt. James Mathias of the Special Services division at 419-424-7153.