By Christine Show
The Orlando Sentinel
ORLANDO — Inside a dusty, abandoned building near Orlando International Airport, someone posing as a dangerous criminal hid behind a makeshift wall.
An officer dressed in black police gear walked in to make his move.
"Drop your gun! Drop your gun!" the officer shouted.
When the bad guy didn't listen, the officer pointed his handgun and fired paint-ball pellets.
The training exercise involved no actual criminals. Orlando officers played the parts of both law enforcer and law breaker. It was one of several scenarios the Orlando Police Department's OIA unit used Monday night to prepare for an array of possible crime scenes at the busy transportation hub.
After recent shootings at an Omaha, Neb., mall and at Colorado churches, OPD officers are not taking any chances.
"The whole purpose of this is to alleviate citizens of Orlando," training officer George Montgomery said. "There can't be a 100 percent guarantee of safety, but we're doing everything we can to make it safe."
The police unit trained eight of its 64 officers stationed at OIA on how to react in unconventional crime scenes. Officers trained to think — and move — fast.
All officers citywide are expected to participate in the active-shooter training within the next four to five months.
The officers learn how to handle varied situations. That includes understanding when it is appropriate to shoot a firearm and when to use chemical agents and Tasers as part of their response to dangerous crime, said lead training officer David Haddock.
"It's about stopping that threat," he said. "We're just trying to get officers a scenario-based training."
OPD began the scenario training in 2002 several years after a deadly shooting at Colorado's Columbine High School prompted police throughout the country to change their tactics, Montgomery said.
With criminals using new ways to commit crimes, officers know they have to learn how to respond properly, he said.
"Changes are being made by the bad guys," Montgomery said. "We're no longer going to stand by and wait."
Copyright 2007 Orlando Sentinel
Orlando PD trains for active shooter scenarios