Mock Shooter Takes Waterman

Before students returned for the second semester, UVM Chief of Police Gary Margolis and University of Vermont Police services initiated an exercise to test the effectiveness of police services against a shooter on campus. The exercise occurred Jan. 8 at the Waterman Administration building. Margolis brought relevant groups in, such as the Burlington Police Department and the Vermont State Police’s Tactical Service Unit to assist in the exercise and gain training. Exercises, such as the one held on Jan. 8, are planned and implemented to test the security and safety of the University of Vermont, and also to practice for crisis situations on campus. “They are emergencies and crises because they are outside reality. You’re never quite prepared, but I think we are as prepared as we can be. However, you’re never quite sure who is going to show up,” said Margolis on the effectiveness of the exercise. The exercise took place in two stages. The first stage tested the capability of the first responders to react to a shooter. “Police officers are always the first contact,” Margolis said. UVM and Burlington Police coordinated their activities in the first stage of the exercise to effectively train as first responders to the actions of a shooter. UVM and Burlington Police services then handed command over to the Tactical Service Unit for the second stage of the exercise, which centered upon the shooter moving to the President’s conference room. According to Margolis, the Tactical Service Unit was invited to the exercise to gain experience and augment their own training. The Tactical Service Unit routinely trains with organizations throughout the state. According to their website, the Tactical Service Unit, “continually conducts tactical training for other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.” According to the Tactical Service Unit’s website, “The TSU is comprised of highly trained Troopers that are skilled in the areas of Hostage Rescue, High Risk Warrant Service, Fugitive Recovery, Barricade/ Suicidal Subjects and Dignitary Protection.” “It was a great success and a great opportunity to train with our partners and all training objectives were met,” said Lt. Robert Evans, commander of the Vermont Tactical Service Unit. “It was a good exercise to see how UVM would respond to situations like a gunman coming into school, and it was a great idea to get all of the local EMS organizations working together and thinking ahead,” said Dani Bohrer, a member of UVM rescue. The exercise occurred after two days of school response training, with the exercise working as the culminating event for the lessons learned in the training. Student’s have had positive reactions to the exercise “They’re not training to make me feel better, they’re training so they can handle situations that could occur,” said Rick Harrington. “It’s better to have a cop know how to react to these situations, then to have the same cop be completely foreign to the situation,” said Aaron Bernstein.