Lake County police train for school shooting scenario

While no one hopes the training will ever be put to use, five law enforcement agencies in northern Lake County participated in a drill this week to test how well they are prepared for an active shooter situation inside a school.

“We are trying to be proactive about this,” said Ron Roth, police chief in Lake Villa. “All the officers went away with positive comments about the training.”

The training began a few years ago with Lake Villa and Lindenhurst. Antioch and the Lake County Sheriff’s Office joined the training last year and the Grayslake Police Department got involved for this session. The five agencies, Roth said, represent all of the first responders that would respond to an emergency incident in their area.

“We have students in Lake Villa Township and the south side of Grayslake North High School, so it makes sense. We are not that far away,” Roth said of Grayslake joining the group. “It worked out really well because police officers got to meet each other and become familiar.”

The officers worked on tactical formations, entry techniques and how to give emergency medical aide. During the training, organizers tried to simulate all types of threats possible in a school setting so officers could get a feel for a real scenarios. To do that, the training incorporated responses to wounded officers and students.

Inside Lakes Community High School on Monday and Tuesday, police barked coordinates while students from the drama department of both Lakes and Antioch Community high schools wore make-up and applied their acting skills to portray scared and wounded students.

School staff members also volunteered to provide more realistic scenarios.

A police officer played the part of the shooter.

“They did an excellent job,” Roth said of the drama students. “They even brought in a make-up artist, it was like Hollywood.”

Each of the participating departments has at least one officer trained in rapid response, and those officers planned and led the training.

“With money tight it makes sense to do a better job of sharing our resources,” Roth said.

To maintain a safe boundary, access to the Lakes campus was monitored by police and restricted both days. The school is situated south of Antioch and in between Lake Villa and Lindenhurst.

Roth said Community High School District 117 and its staff were very cooperative and supportive of the on-site training.

“Training is a constant and necessary component of law enforcement,” he said.

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