CLEARWATER, Fla. — Training for the worst. Every single officer with Clearwater Police is going through a near month-long active shooter training.
Today we’re learning about the major shakeups in how they plan to respond. Only ABC Action News allowed inside the training facility.
All 239 of Clearwater PD's officers will have gone through the training by next week. Also present were Treasure Island Police and Clearwater Fire & Rescue. Officers will encounter real-life scenarios, in a real-world setting within Clearwater High School.
It’s grueling training Clearwater Police haven’t seen in five years. The training extensive and requiring much time and many resources to set up.
“Hustle up kids are being shot. Let’s go!” yelled a training officer.
These officers preparing for what they hope will never happen in their own backyard.
“When you are talking about children, it hurts your heartstrings and that’s why it’s so important for us to be able to reassure the public that we are as prepared as humanly possible and that we are going to do everything as possible to keep their children safe," said Chief Dan Slaughter of Clearwater Police.
Chaos as fire alarms rang loudly. Their training officer seeming more like a drill sergeant. The entire point is to make officers as stressed and uncomfortable as possible.
“Now all those elements. Sight, hearing, a sense of smell. All of that starts to become second nature to them going—I’ve seen this before this is how I deal with it," explained Chief Scott Ehlers of Clearwater Fire & Rescue.
Plus a major overhaul in how they’ll handle active shooters. Lessons the agencies learned from the most recent shootings including Parkland. Should training become reality paramedics with Clearwater Fire & Rescue will be armed with ballistic vests and helmets. Now, they'll move into the emergency area under the protection of armed officers. They say this will make it quicker for them to help victims.
“Back then, if you asked me that if in 30 years this would have been happening, I would have never said that would be—it’s just unfathomable," said Ehlers.
The other big shakeup is expanding their training to handle more than just a shooter.
“If we are focused on it always being a school shooting... you have incidents that involve knives, you have incidents that could be cars being driven over crowds of people like you saw in New York," said Slaughter.
Police leaders tell me they plan to do this training at least once every year.