BURLINGTON — About 60 police officers from around Vermont are being trained this week in how to respond to an active shooter, following acts of violence around the country.
Officials would not discuss details of the two days of training and practice at the University of Vermont but said it's imperative for police departments to be able to work together to respond to situations where a gunman is trying to kill people.
"Any police department is going to be overwhelmed really quickly with that happening. So training together helps build on the skills that we already have and working collaborations that we already have across the police departments so we all understand what needs to happen no matter where it happens," said UVM Police Chief Lianne Tuomey, one of the instructors.
About 60 police officers received the training last year.
This week officers from Chittenden County, Stowe, Newport, Bennington and Thetford are taking part, including the Colchester Police Chief Jennifer Morrison, who said it's naive to think that Vermont is immune from such violence.
There are many scenarios — a disgruntled employee, an angry spouse or partner — that can lead to an active shooter situation.
"One person can wreak havoc on a school, or a building or a business place just as easily as a group of terrorists and you have to prepared to defeat the threat of anything from the solo gunman right up through to an organized response that's trying to terrorize your community," said Morrison, who said her entire department will now be trained.
Instructors received Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training, or ALERRT, at Texas State University. More than 80,000 law enforcement officers across the country have been trained in ALERRT operations and tactics. The training is supported by grant funding, some from the Department of Justice and FBI.
In New Hampshire, the state's more than 11,000 employees will go through a new active shooter training program during the next three months. It will cost the state less than $3 per employee to go through the training, said Perry Plummer, the state's homeland security and emergency management director.
Planning was underway before the shooting in San Bernardino, California, Plummer said, but he added the shooting gave new urgency to New Hampshire's updated program.
In Vermont, active shooter training is part of initial security training for state workers, said Administration Secretary Justin Johnson. About 300 employees to date have had that training, which includes a video developed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.