UTICA, N.Y. - It's been almost 20 years since the Columbine shooting, and since then first responders have looked deeper into how they approach an active shooter situation.
"What most people aren't aware of is back then when you had an active shooter, the responding officers would secure the outside of the building and not go in and wait for the SWAT team to assemble then deploy," said Utica Chief of Police Mark Williams.
Williams said responding to active shooting situations this way led to more deaths, which is why first responders are now essential once they arrive on scene.
"They have to form a team, go in the building and take down that threat," he explained.
Today the Utica Police Department and Utica College partnered for an active shooter drill, where both organizations looked into how they would respond should that ever take place here.
"Tragically mass shootings have become common place so we would be naive to pretend that that sort of thing cannot happen here even in Central New York," said Austen Givens, professor and incident commander for Utica College.
So what should students do if they ever find themselves in an active shooter situation?
"It's the typical flight if you can run, if you can't run hide and last alternative, if you're being confronted with an active shooter and have nowhere to go, fight," Williams said.
"Once students have been trained in this mantra of responding to an active shooter situation, then we sort of provide them with any sort of additional instructions about what to do and where to go in the event an incident like this does occur," Givens explained.
That information is sent out through both mobile and email alerts to the students. Givens said while today's exercise went well, he thinks more should continue to be done.
"Because it's that sort of continued contact and practice that really makes us all more successful," he said.
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