GRAFENWÖHR, Germany — The Columbine High School massacre occurred on April 16, 2007. The Virginia Tech massacre took place on Nov. 5, 2009. Nidal Malik Hasan was accused of killing 13 people in the worst shooting to ever take place on an American military base. And on July 20, James Holmes opened fire in a sold-out screening of a Batman movie.
“For the last 15 years, from Columbine to present day, police response to active shooters is at an all time high,” said Sgt. Adam Kirschner, 709th Military Police Battalion law and order NCOIC.
Four instructors from the Department of Homeland Security Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Ga., taught an active shooter threat instructor training course Aug. 20 to 24, graduating 30 18th MP Brigade Soldiers.
According to the Department of Homeland Security, the course takes active shooter threat tactics training to the next level by emphasizing leadership, teach backs, and adult learning, as well as the traditional technical skills needed by field training officers and special agents.
“Planning a mobile training team to come from Homeland Security to Germany is something we don’t often get; this is a once in a multiyear event and the opportunity to have them here as such an accredited and recognized organization is phenomenal,” Kirschner said.
Professional law enforcement is the No. 1 line of effort for MP Soldiers. This course started Soldiers with the fundamentals, principles and methodology and progressed into more dynamic realistic scenarios.
“This training is extremely important. Unfortunately, it’s a skill you will never need until the time arises,” said Staff Sgt. Donald Johnson, 529th MP Company squad leader, 95th MP Bn, 18th MP Bde. “It’s a perishable skill. It conflicts with our tactical training, so it’s hard for Soldiers to get out of the tactical mindset and get back into the law enforcement mindset, because things are so different. But it is very vital, because at a moment’s notice we could be called and we need to be ready.”
This type of training is required for military police as law enforcement professionals and must be trained as a first responder in any emergency situation. Traditionally, law enforcement would wait for SWAT or other assistance before moving inside. Since Columbine, traditional response is no longer taught.
“The sooner law enforcement officers can get in there the more lives we save,” said Thomas Crabill, senior instructor for the Active Shooter Threat Instructor Training Program, Federal Law Enforcement Training Center. “In nontraditional response, the first responders have to move in. We teach them to move in there by themselves as quickly as possible to at least pin down the shooter and get them in an environment where they can’t kill innocent civilians.”
This training course not only teaches the Soldiers to be operators in response to an active shooter, but certifies them to be accredited instructors so they can go back to their home stations and teach the active shooter threat response training to their subordinates down to the lowest level.
“I hope they take away the ability to not only perform the response tactics they learn but also to relay them to their Soldiers and actually teach this to their Soldiers in order to improve our security posture,” Kirschner said.
Kirschner said there are some steps being taken to professionalize law enforcement in Germany and across the 18th MP Brigade.
“We are taking many steps to professionalize it, and by bringing in accredited programs and making certified instructors in all different levels of force, response and tactics, that is going to make our program that much better,” he said.