9 on your side exclusive: Greenville PD train to take down activ - WNCT

9 on your side exclusive: Greenville PD train to take down active shooter

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GREENVILLE, N.C. -

In the blink of an eye a gunman opened fire on an unsuspecting crowd.

No one could have imagined it would happen in our own backyard, but it did. When it happened, Greenville police were ready.

It’s called “Rapid Deployment.” In a story you’ll only see on “9” our Kristen Hunter takes you behind the scenes of this very specialized training.

This month the Greenville Police Department had their first active shooter training exercise since the Walmart shootings. They do the training every year, but this time around they’re coming into it with a new perspective and a slightly different approach.

When dozens of people ran from a gunman outside the Greenville Walmart last June, the Greenville police officers ran toward him.

"The number one priority always when an active shooter comes out is to locate...isolate...stop the threat,” said Cpl. Michael Staffelbach, Rapid Deployment trainer with the Greenville Police Department.

The officers didn’t know where the gunman was or how many victims he targeted. They didn’t wait for back-up. They followed the sound of shots. The goal: to put the pressure on and take the shooter’s mind off the victims and onto police.

"Basically we want him shooting us instead of the kids and children because they don't have anything to protect themselves with,” said Staffelbach.

The accelerated police action is something Greenville Police Officers have trained for the past 10 years. The tactics were prompted by the response to the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School. First responders there waited for SWAT teams to arrive even as the attack continued.

"It's a little shift but it does add minutes, seconds. That could be the difference for people that are waiting for us,” said Chief Hassan Aden, Greenville Police.

Fortunately, lives were spared in Greenville but that doesn’t mean lessons weren’t learned.

“It could have been a lot worse. I think our training helped us that day to have an excellent response, however the possibility for many more casualties was there. We were just lucky in some cases with the circumstance, you know, the shooter turned right instead of left and that helped us to mitigate it,” said Aden.

Immediately following the Walmart shootings, Greenville police pulled video footage and data. They were looking for opportunities to create a better response. This year they’re coming into their training with a new mentality.

“I think it's different because at this point we have experienced it. We have been in a gun battle with an active shooter so I think the mindset is very different. It's not 'Well this COULD happen’...it HAS happened.”

They’re taking their practice outside of just schools and teaching the community what to do.

"Run first. Hide second. Third fight,” said Staffelbach.

The countless hours of training ultimately translates into seconds that count.

In the upcoming months the Greenville Police Department plans to hold several community forums to help you come up with your own “Rapid Deployment” plan.

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