FREEHOLD – County law enforcement officials are partnering with local municipal police departments and state agencies to conduct a series of active shooter drills on April 20, 2018. The drills will include various scenarios to give law enforcement and first responders an opportunity to train in real-life situations in real-time, announced Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.
“Recent events have only served to highlight the need for preparedness,” said Gramiccioni. “We started down this road nearly 15 months ago with an eye towards readiness and we will continue to prepare for providing the safety our citizens need and deserve. We must recognize the realities of evil people focused on perpetuating evil acts.”
April 20th marks nearly twenty years since the heinous attack on Columbine which was followed by three school shootings that have been even deadlier, including the recent shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. This active shooter drill, however, is not to memorialize any one of these horrifying events but to better prepare for a unified and quick response by law enforcement and to once again, remind the community to be aware and if they hear or see something to report it immediately.
“We cannot ignore the realities of our present-day situation,” said Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden. “There are people focused on doing harm to us – in our schools, in our workplaces, in our recreational spaces and where we will gather. We can prepare for the worst hoping our preparedness makes us the best.”
The agencies involved include the Southern Monmouth County Active Shooter Partnership, Manasquan Police Department and surrounding police, EMS/first aid and fire departments, Office of Emergency Management, Monmouth County Fire Marshal, Monmouth County Police Chiefs Association, Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office, and the Monmouth County Emergency Response Team (MOCERT) will conduct a full scale drill at the former St. Denis School campus in Manasquan.
“Lessons learned by law enforcement since Columbine and other horrifying active shooter incidents revealed we cannot ignore the potential for a threat to occur anywhere at any time. The reality is these incidents are most often unpredictable and unfold very quickly, therefore, requiring an immediate and rapid law enforcement response. This is why the collective group is training for an event that we hope will never come to fruition; however, we must be tactically ready if and when it does occur” said John G. McCabe, Chief of Detectives at the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office.
The full-range of participants are expected to face a simulated active shooter inside the former school building. The exercise is being coordinated with Critical Response Group, A Rodgers Group Company, of Ewing Township, New Jersey.
“The Monmouth County Police Chief’s Association is committed to working with the local school districts to devise the most efficient and effective plan to keep our children safe,” said Rumson Police Chief Scott Paterson, president of the Monmouth County Police Chief’s Association (MCPCA). “This is a collaborative, on-going venture to ensure the current and future safety of our school and students.”
The scenarios will include a law enforcement response and coordinated responses from other emergency responders and medical personnel. The exercise is intended to test the capabilities of the Southern Monmouth County Active Shooter Partnership between agencies in Asbury Park, Avon-by-the-Sea, Belmar, Bradley Beach, Brielle, Manasquan, Neptune City, Neptune Township, Sea Girt, Spring Lake, Spring Lake Heights and Wall Township police departments.
“We conduct our active shooter training to keep the children and staff safe in the quickest and most efficient manner possible to prevent any and all injuries to the best of our ability,” said Brielle Police Chief Michael Palmer, training officer for the MCPCA.
The drill will bring road closures and limited access to the immediate area. Residents within the blocks surrounding the school should be aware they may experience limited access during the drill. Union Avenue between Curtis and Marcellus avenues will be closed and traffic diverted towards South Street during the drill. Virginia Avenue will be closed from South Street to Mt Lane. Mt Lane will be closed between Curtis and Marcellus avenues.
“This drill will be as real-life as possible without the reality of death and destruction that comes with these active shooter situations. We have seen the carnage that can be inflicted on our citizens. The drill will have the look and feel of a real-life active shooter situation, including the inconveniences that accompany such events. Everything the participants and residents will experience is aimed at creating a realistic scenario to test our ability to respond, react and evaluate our abilities before we are faced with any reality,” Gramiccioni explained.
Residents should expect to see a buildup of participants starting around 6 a.m. on Friday. April 20. Local high school students have volunteered to assist with the exercise, and will be on-scene that morning before taking their places inside the mock crime scene.
“We will be bringing a level of realism to this drill that may cause concern for anyone unaware of the activity. Rest assured we are doing everything we can to keep our citizens informed and involved. The visuals of wounded people are simply a part of the realism and aids in making decisions about medical care and responses should we ever be faced with these realities. There is no cause for concern,” said Manasquan Police Chief Michael Bauer.
A media area will be established for any reporters who wish to cover the event. Press credentials from the New Jersey Press Association, or similar organization, will be needed for access to the press area. There will be a mock press conference to add realism to the event. Reporters are encouraged to participate, and a follow up press availability will occur following the completion of the first drill exercise.
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