Columbia community learns safety skills for active shooter and intruder situations

Two participants in CPD's active shooter and violent intruder training walk through an exercise meant to confront a gunman and bring themselves out of harm's way. (Megan Sanchez/KRCG 13)

With pens and paper in hand, 65 people walked into the Columbia Police Department Regional Training Center Saturday morning. They came ready to learn how to respond to a situation most hope to never encounter.

The training teaches the process of planning for and reacting to an armed intruder. Sgt. Mike Hestir and Officer Jeff Forck teach this course to citizens so they are ready to respond to such situations.

Joy Cook, the wife of a local pastor, works in the children's ministry of her church. She said she came to the training wanting to know how she could protect the little ones from danger.

"I just want to have an action plan in place to keep our kids safe should there be some kind of terrible situation," Cook said.

Prior to the training, Cook said she was confident that when faced with such a situation, she would most likely freeze. CPD said it's important to do the opposite. They said you may not execute perfectly, but the goal is to do something.

Hestir and Forck walked the participants through the observe, orient, decide and act strategy (OODA).

Beyond training them for the actual occurrence of an active shooter or violent intruder, the training taught people how to be on their guard before such a thing happens. Cook said she realized everyone should be more aware of their surroundings.

"I think we all are on our phones too often and we need to be more aware," she said.

According to Gun Violence Archive, there were 345 mass shootings in the United States last year. Incidents like the Las Vegas concert massacre and the Sutherland Springs church shooting were discussed in the training.

Darryl Smith is the chair of Columbia's Citizens Police Review Board. He came to the training to see what information CPD was providing to the community. He said he realized what a responsibility everyday people have.

"People are starting to realize we need to be responsible, and we need to be aware," Smith said. "That doesn't mean we need to be paranoid. Awareness and paranoia are two different things. We need to be aware and we need to be prepared in case something does happen."

CPD also emphasized not being scared. The instructors said it's not good to live in fear of these things happening, but just to be aware that they can, and know what to do should they happen.

This is the first time CPD has held this public training since 2013. Each session was full Saturday.

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