Police in St. Louis City conducting mass shooter training for first time in years

Published: Aug. 9, 2022 at 11:02 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - St. Louis police are now conducting large-scale active shooter training for officers for the first time in six years.

It’s a follow-up to a News 4 Investigation from June, which revealed that St. Louis Metropolitan police had not done that kind of training, while other departments have done it annually. Other departments, as well, are highlighting their training, ahead of the start of the school year.

“If we just ignore it and say it’s never going to happen in St. Louis, that’s where we are vulnerable,” said Sgt. Shawn McGuire, who told News 4 he thinks about safety in schools nearly every day.

“I have kids myself and they go to elementary school, I put them on the bus, it’s always on my mind too,” he said.

That’s why he says St. Louis County police officers have been participating regularly in large scale trainings, often referred to by the acronym MACTAC, since 2010.

“The way we prepare ourselves is why we train,” he said.

Working with partner agencies, they simulate the stress of a real-life situation.

“They could get shot with an airsoft because we want to make it more stressful. In a real situation, it is going to be stressful,” he said.

And they try to learn from every tragedy around the country. Criticism of the police’s response in Uvalde, Texas for example, further highlighted the need to train first-responding officers.

“If active loss of life is happening, our officers are going to that threat, to deal with that threat. to stop the shooting, stop the killing any way possible,” Sgt. McGuire said.

The lack of mass shooter training for city police is a concern for officials at St. Louis Public Schools, who said they wanted officers to have hands-on training in the schools.

Police blamed the COVID-19 pandemic for keeping them from doing the training but told News 4 they were planning on them in the near future. After News 4′s initial story ran, the department sent an email to their officers, mandating they now sign up for a training date.

“The training will be conducted by our department and will take place on various dates over the next 12 months to ensure all commissioned personnel can attend,” a spokesperson wrote, adding that so far, 92 officers have been through the training.

Back in St. Louis County, Sgt. McGuire says he wants to assure parents.

“I don’t want them to be nervous about this, I want them to know that we have trained for several years on this, we have worked together as a region,” he said.

Heading into the school year, he says everyone should stay vigilant and look for red flags to keep kids safe.

“Don’t hesitate to call the police,” he said.

Sgt. McGuire says St. Louis County police are looking to add additional equipment to patrol cars to help them breach buildings in active shooter scenarios.