Mock shooting at state capitol trains law enforcement agencies

Thursday, March 17, 2011 - 3:31pm

BATON ROUGE, La (NBC33) -- Disaster can strike at any moment, and that's why there were gunshots at the state capitol today. Police agencies want to prepare for the worst.

"This can happen anytime," says Col. Mike Edmonson with state police. "History shows that. Past events in this country show that."

All it takes is an instant. When danger occurs, its up to our law enforcement agencies to stop it.

"It's not about how quick something takes, or how long something takes. It's about making sure it's done succesfully, and that we make sure human life is our number one priority," says Edmonson.

Communication between those agencies was key in putting a stop to the shooting simulation inside the capitol building.

"This is more than policeman 101," says Duane Schexnayder with the Louisiana State Police Crisis Response Team. "This is where policemen actually have the ability to affect change in an armed encounter."

"On something this big, no one agency or one person would be able to handle it themselves," says Noel Salamoni, commander of the BRPD Special Operations Division.

It was a collaboration between the Baton Rouge Police Department, the East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office, State Police, and the Capitol Sergeant of Arms. Law enforcement officers received brief information about shots fired, but that's all they were given. Once inside, their training had to guid their decisions.

"It has to be a surprise because when you're dealing with reality, it is a surprise," says Edmonson. "It's the fear of the unknown."

Everyone had a role, including the officers playing the part of the shooters. "It's quite different to be the bad guy, but you get a different perspective," says Sgt. David Kolb with state police.

The goal of the exercise is to learn as much about the unknown as possible. "As much training as you've done, you're never prepared for everything," explains Edmonson. "It gives them a chance to prepare for what might be."

With the legislative session right around the corner, Edmonson says, now is the time to take action. "We know what's going to transpire during the legislative session. Based on what we've seen around the country right now, we've got to be prepared."

Officers continue to keep the state capitol a safe haven for every single person who walks through it's doors. "We've got an important building right here," says Edmonson. "It's a public place. People should come here to be able to freely say what they need to say."

The mock shooting was the first of it's kind, and officers say its a work in progress. The next step, figuring out what worked and what didn't inside the capitol Thursday to better their plan of action for the future.


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