Monday, June 6, 2022

Oro Valley Cops Are Ready To Take Out The "Bad Guys" In An Active Shooter Situation

How safe are Oro Valley's schools?
That's a question on the minds of many of our families here in Oro Valley, after the horrific school massacre at Uvalde Tx last week.

Based on our conversation with Oro Valley Police Lt. Mike Gracie, we've concluded that our children are definitely safer than those in Uvalde. 

Here's five reasons why.

Reason 1: The Prime Directive: "Get the bad guy and do it quickly"
First, and foremost, an Oro Valley Police Officer will not be waiting for reinforcements before taking on the situation. Indeed, every officer in the Oro Valley Police Department has been trained and is ready to do whatever it takes to eliminate the threat in an active shooting situation. Their prime directive (see panel) is to immediately engage in the situation, strap on their packs and do whatever it takes to get to the bad guy.

The officer's priorities are clear. Protect the lives of the potential victims and bystanders. Then, protect their own life.  Protecting the life of the perpetrator is last.  The same priority is applied for providing medical assistance.

Reason 2: Each officer is  an "Army of One"
Second, each Oro Valley Police Office has been trained to do the job.

Oro Valley Police Lt. Mike Gracie has devoted a significant portion of his career to focusing on the active shooter world.  According to Gracie, each officer is trained to deal with active shooter situations. The training is extensive. It includes training at schools as well as training at a "mock site" at Davis Monathan AFB. The department also trains with other Southern Arizona public safety forces.

"We train officers to be competent with a solo officer response. The officer might be the first person there. Second officers might be thirty seconds away and you can hear the sirens. But if you have actionable intel and reason to believe your presence here is not even worth waiting 30 seconds, we have trained you and how to do something by yourself." 

The Oro Valley Police Officer has been trained to be an "army of one". When an active shooting situation develops, they are to act to save lives. They should not hesitate and wait for backup. Other officers who arrive are to move into immediate action. At some point, an arriving officer will take "command and control," coordinating the many activities that have to take place: From making sure that traffic in the area is controlled; to ensuring that ambulances get to the site; to ensuring that parents can find their kids in a school shooting incident.

Reason 3: The SRO plays a key role in school safety
Third, the town's school resource officer (SRO) program puts a cop in those schools who want an SRO.

When it comes to schools in Oro Valley, the SRO plays a key role. In the schools in which they are located, they become the first officer in. The SRO, like all Oro Valley police officers, is trained in what to do. SRO's are in Oro Valley schools at the behest of the Amphi School District or the private school. They are invited in. They have not been invited to all schools in town.  (We will not identify schools that have no SRO coverage.) Regardless, the Oro Valley Police Department will respond to any threat at any school in town at any time.

The actual design of school security and the plan for what students and teachers are to do if something happens is done by the school itself. The Oro Valley Police Department has no input on that.

Reason 4: State of the art equipment keeps the police force "ready to roll"
Fourth, the Oro Valley Police Officer has the right equipment in "ready to go" condition.

"Another part of our preparation is our equipment. We recently [March] revamped our laser-sight sidearms. We equipped them with a micro-dot sidearm system." This will improve the officer's use of force decision-making as well as enhance accuracy. Officers have their sidearm on them at all time. 

The department also upgraded and standardized their rifles. "Intentionally made them shorter because that is easier to use inside a structure...They are also much higher quality, much more modular, and much more customizable." All rifles are now suppressed. That's important because firing a rifle on a hallway, such as we have in our schools, can be deafening to all. The police force has also miniaturized breaching equipment, making it one officer portable. 

Reason 5: Constant surveillance
Fifth, the Oro Valley Police Department follows up on all tips and leads that it gets.

The police department is constantly monitoring information they receive from various sources and using various means to determine if there is an imminent threat or if one could possibly develop. For example, students at CDO high school have an online bulletin board where students can report any concerns of things they've heard or seen.  The department may get a call from a concerned citizen or parent concerned perhaps something isn't quite right.  The department follows up on all of these.
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