Members of the Mansfield Police, Richland County Sheriff’s Office, Mansfield Fire Department and area first responders came together last week to conduct an active shooter training exercise at the David Clinic F. Winder VA at 1025 S. Trimble Road.
The training exercise scenario focused on a disgruntled veteran who was dissatisfied with his care who obtained his gun, entered the building and shot an employee before jumping over the receiving rage, planning to hurt others. He was left with a flesh wound after law enforcement was able to subdue him and escort him out of the building following a search of the one-story facility.
It took Mansfield police three minutes to arrive on the scene after a 911 call was made to the city for the Nov. 10 drill.
For many local law enforcement, it was the first time inside the VA clinic, which most of the time is filled with patients who are military veterans.
Mansfield Deputy Police Chief Jason Bammann told media that the VA wanted to do a similar exercise two years ago but it was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It won’t just be Mansfield Police who will respond
Two months ago, VA law enforcement contacted Mansfield Police to set up a practice scenario for an active-fire exercise.
“We’ve got the sheriff’s office involved. At any point in an active fire drill, it won’t just be Mansfield (police), it’ll be all officers in Richland County responding,” Bammann said.
“It’s something essential, unfortunately the patrol will have to manage,” Bammann said, referring to the immediacy of the event.
Bammann said without disclosing or identifying police strategy, thinking back to the Columbine school shooting, the approach to law enforcement training was different.
“(At the time) the theory was set up all around the perimeter waiting for SWAT to come in,” he said. “Well, it takes time and for every second that passes, a life can be lost,” he said.
Law enforcement will engage the shooter “immediately”
“Like everything we’ve learned over time, now is an immediate attack,” Bammann said. “If there’s an active shooter in this country, most law enforcement responds immediately.”
Bammann said active shooter training is now part of annual training because of everything going on in society.
With law enforcement manpower issues in the country and Richland County, he said it helps that there is a great working relationship between law enforcement in the county. of Richmond.
“We all train together, we all work together, because when something happens we all react,” he said.
Bammann said an officer on patrol who encounters such a scenario has the mentality to sort through the chaos knowing there is a threat and an active shooter with a gun in the building, and when he or she went inside, they found a few hundred people running frantically.
But the law enforcement officer will get away with it because they took the oath, the deputy chief said.
Stacia Ruby, public affairs specialist with the VA, said exercises like this are conducted at VA clinic sites throughout Ohio.
“It is very important in terms of communication that all first responders know what is going on and know the layout of the facilities,” she said.
Chief: The police can never do enough drills.
She said the VA is working with cities, counties and townships to acclimate them to VA sites in northeast Ohio.
Mansfield Police Chief Keith Porch said he was pleased with his officers’ response to the Nov. 8 drill, saying law enforcement can never do enough drills. He said he would like to organize more exercises to learn the layout of buildings.
“Unfortunately, I hope we never have to respond (to a real active shooter call),” he said.
Employees from the Mansfield Fire Department and the Richland County Sheriff’s Office also responded and worked with VA police on scene.
Employees waited outside during the exercise, after fleeing to safety. And fortunately, patients only started arriving for their appointments once the exercise was over.