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How would you perform in these off-duty active-shooter drills?


By now, most progressive agencies are into conducting patrol-level active shooter drills. But how about training to confront an in-progress killer when you’re off duty — in a shopping mall, say, alone or with your family?

Instructor Craig Dickerson has discovered just what an eye opener that can be, with in-service personnel making communication and tactical errors in training exercises that could cost them their lives in a real confrontation.

During a presentation on active shooter considerations at the ILEETA conference earlier this year, Dickerson, a tactics trainer with the Montgomery County (Md.) Police Department, alluded to off-duty drills he has been running for his officers and those from other agencies in the Washington, D.C., area. Recently in an exclusive interview with PoliceOne, he elaborated on the realistic scenarios he and his training team have created — and the sobering results that surface when seasoned officers, out of uniform, suddenly confront a lethal loser with murder on his mind.

The set-up
The exercises take place in an abandoned range in the basement of the department’s academy in Rockville, a cavernous area about 30 by 50 yards. A year or so ago, a network of plywood walls was constructed there, largely with donated materials, to create a mock school setting, complete with hallways, classrooms, and doors and outfitted with lockers, desks, seats, and other real-world props. With open ceilings that allow for bird’s-eye videotaping, “this has proved ideal for training uniformed officers in active shooter responses,” Dickerson says.

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