Tactical training

Police agencies practice active shooter scenarios at Youngsville High School

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry A Pennsylvania State Police trooper fires simulated ammunition as he runs across the Youngsville High School gymnasium toward an identified threat Monday during tactical training.

Simulated ammunition and police jargon were flying around Youngsville High School on Monday.

Pennsylvania State Police out of the Northwest Training Center ran tactical training at the school in advance of Warren County School District’s forthcoming active shooter incident exercise scheduled for August 20.

The training was offered in two sessions — to an early group of 16 officers and an afternoon group of 18.

Participating agencies included Pennsylvania State Police, Youngsville Borough Police, Conewango Township Police, City of Warren Police, Pennsylvania Game Commission, Warren County Sheriff’s Office, and Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office.

Trainers Rico Coletta and Pat Weindorf repeatedly used terms like bounding overwatch, CQB, and people-places-portals.

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry Warren County Sheriff’s deputies clear the Youngsville High School gymnasium Monday during tactical training.

“This is a two-day class we condense into about two hours,” Coletta said to the afternoon group.

The trainers gave the officers advice on handling common situations from large open spaces to classrooms and stairways, in small groups or by themselves. With many agencies represented, each having its own practices and procedures, the trainers described and recommended ways to communicate non-verbally that are easy to interpret and pointed out flaws in some commonly used methods.

The training was not intended to perfect anyone’s skills.

The goal was to “streamline — help make this a little bit easier,” Coletta said.

Familiarity with the training can help an officer take the operational goal of searching a large building with a multitude of hiding places and make it manageable, Coletta said. “One huge task can be accomplished by breaking it down into small, easily-attainable goals.”

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry A Warren County Sheriff’s Deputy practices clearing a stairwell Monday during tactical training at Youngsville High School.

The final exercise was a scenario in which small groups of officers were told there was an active shooter situation in the building. They had to find and neutralize the threat.

Officers put on neck guards and full helmets and used firearms rigged to fire simulated ammunition — non-lethal, short-range rounds. The ammunition left small dots of paint where they struck.

They practiced hallway and room clearance skills and had to react when they heard gunfire — Weindorf had a handgun with blanks — and when they saw the bad guy.

When each scenario was complete, Coletta and Weindorf conducted a brief after-action report, critiquing the officers’ performance.

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry Officers from Warren County Sheriff’s Office and Conewango Township Police keep their weapons trained on the bad guy at the end of an active shooter scenario Monday during tactical training at Youngsville High School.

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry Conewango Township Police and Pennsylvania State Police engage in an active shooter scenario Monday during tactical training at Youngsville High School.

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry Pennsylvania State Police and Conewango Township Police work together to clear a stairwell Monday during tactical training at Youngsville High School.

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry Officers from Youngsville Borough Police, Conewango Township Police, and Warren County Sheriff’s Office engage in an active shooter scenario Monday during tactical training at Youngsville High School.

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry City of Warren Police search Youngsville High School Monday during tactical training.

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