Elon University Police participates in joint active shooter training

The training at Alamance Community College gave law enforcement officers and emergency response teams from across Alamance County the opportunity to get hands-on experience during live active shooter scenarios.

Elon University Police officers on Thursday joined law enforcement agencies from across Alamance County for a hands-on experience in responding to an active shooter situation. 

For nearly 30 heart-racing minutes, Elon University Police officers participated in a simulation inside the Advanced Applied Technology Center at Alamance Community College in Graham. Officers searched the building for an actor playing an active shooter on the campus. Officers, carrying training simulation guns, searched the building for the "shooter" while navigating unfamiliar hallways and encountering "victims" in need of medical assistance. 

​"We train all the time, including mental health training, first aid training, crisis intervention and de-escalation,” said Dennis Franks, director of Elon University Campus Safety and Police. “These training sessions are all part of the broader response to an emergency on campus. It’s about working together and trying to keep the community and the university safe from any issue or incident.”

While Thursday's exercise was just a drill, Cpl. Chris Miles was still on high alert.

“The adrenaline gets going as soon as you get in there," he said. "Once you get in there, and you know what you’re here for, regardless of if it’s a drill or real life, you want to go through this like it's the real thing."

The training session was one of eight days of exercises at Alamance Community College, where David Prevatte serves as the college's director of public safety. Elon University Police officers joined officers from the Town of Elon, Alamance County, Burlington, Graham, Haw River and other agencies, as well as local firefighters and emergency management officials. Two groups of 10 officers participated in two active shooter simulations at ACC on Thursday. The purpose of the drills was to give officers tactical training and to give first responders experience working with other agencies. 

"If something were to happen at any place, whether it be ACC, Elon University, another school, or even a business, your first groups coming together are probably not going to be from the same agency because everybody’s coming," said Steve Foust, assistant coordinator for in-service law enforcement training at ACC. "The officers have all been trained the same, so they know how to react the same, and usually they do. But it takes them out of their comfort zone and makes it so they can work with other people to get the job accomplished.”

Prior to Thursday's drills, officers began their training in the classroom. Lessons focused on response tactics and responsibilities and priorities for law enforcement officers in an active shooting situation, the first of which is to prevent the assailant from doing any further harm to innocent people.  

Officers discussed the responsibilities of various response teams involved in active shooter situations: the contact team, which locates, isolates and stops the shooter or assailant; the rescue team, which is charged with treating and evacuating victims; the perimeter team that establishes an inner and outer perimeter; and an evacuation team focused on getting all innocent people out of the building safely. 

Thursday's training put each of those teams to the test, and the experience will ensure Elon University police and other local law enforcement agencies are prepared in the event of an emergency. 

“It’s very important," Miles said. "Elon has a lot of buildings and it has a lot of students, a lot of employees that we’ve got to keep safe. We have to be prepared for anything.”

Elon Campus Safety and Police is made up of sworn police officers, with full arrest authority, who offer patrol, crime prevention, security and support to all members of the Elon community. The department was accredited by the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators (IACLEA) in 2018. The accreditation documents the university's commitment to campus safety and preparation for threats that might come. 

Elon Campus Safety and Police is open and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. To reach the department by phone, call 336-278-5555, or 9-1-1 in the event of an emergency. For more information, click here.