Over the last four years, the El Paso Community College Police Department has gone above and beyond to continue to train and have its force be prepared for any situation.
EPCC police officers at the Valle Verde campus training for the possible event of an active shooter at all campuses.
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From enforcing school policies to a potential school shooting, EPCC P.D. has continued to seek ways to be one step ahead of any possible problem.
During the two-week break in-between the Spring and Summer semesters, the EPCC Police Department went through special training to prepare its officers for an active shooter.
As school shootings have become more common and more frequent, EPCC P.D. have taken upon themselves to create scenarios where they train step by step on how to stop and neutralize any active shooter.
EPCC Police Sargent, Adalberto Soto, an officer with 10 years of experience, said that “Every summer break that we have, for the past four years, we have taken the opportunity to train how to enter different campuses such as Transmountain campus or Valle Verde. When we are in these campuses, we evaluate what the best route is to enter and breach. Depending on the situation, we would start with a parking lot sweep and move up, until we can find the shooter and neutralize him or her.”
EPCC P.D. have trained at every campus since different Campuses require different approaches, and every officer on duty has gone under this training session.
Sargent Soto explained that “During these exercises, we talk about what can happen during an active shooting, what needs to be done and our first priority is to take control of the situation. Normally, police forces use simulation rounds with grains that have paint on them, kind of like paintballs. However, they are costly and leave a mess, so for training purposes we have switched to airsoft which feel real, make training have a sense of urgency and the officers learn really quickly from their mistakes.”
For training purposes, Sargent Soto, the instructor for these training sessions, has one officer be the active shooter and assigns a unit of six officers to do the breach.
Training takes the form of hostage situation to a full-scale shooting. Once the officers neutralize the threat, feedback is given to them and suggestions are made to avoid future problems.
Officer Campa, one of the officers who underwent this year’s training, explained that he feels “better prepared, both mentally and physically. During an actual shooting, everybody from the area will be called to help, EPPD and other forces around the area but, some of these officers won’t know the layout of campus buildings, or won’t know certain exits so, as an officer who has gone step by step, knowing where to breach and where to go can make the difference between life and death. Being in a specialized unit during my military service, having constant training does make the difference, and that’s why we are here, to protect.”
Officer Campa explained what is felt like to participate in the training, “Adrenaline is pumping, I don’t know what’s behind the next door I open, so having a team to back me up and me backing them up really adds up during training, so I am really happy with the force doing these trainings, to help us, so feedback is really important, to learn from my mistakes and once the actual threat comes, me and the team are prepared.”
The college’s police department is taking no short cuts and are making sure that it’s student are safe and are determined to prevent El Paso Community College from becoming another name on a victim’s list. For any questions EPCC P.D. can be contacted at (915) 831-2200.