WAYNE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Law enforcement agencies prepared for the upcoming school year Sunday with an active-shooter drill in one Passaic County town.
As WCBS 880’s Monica Miller reported, it’s a situation Wayne police Sgt. Keith McDermott hopes he never has to face.
“You just get that mental mind-set, and then years down the road, even if it happens, you do what you’re trained for,” McDermott said.
The scenario featured civilians playing scripted roles of intruders, teachers and students, while responding law enforcement agencies were left in the dark on what to expect, CBS 2’s Steve Langford reported.
“You can’t be too prepared for the kind of tragedies we see all too often these days,” said Phread Ayres, a teacher who volunteered to play a staffer inside the besieged school.
The drill at Wayne Hills High School was designed to test officers in a double threat situation: two attackers, one with a gun and the other with a bomb.
Colleen Vassello, a volunteer playing a student, said she thought about what the victims went through at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
“I don’t understand how you could not see that your child is in that much need of help,” Vassello said, crying.
Playing the role of a frantic parent waiting for information about her child, Amanda Sanders, a mother and teacher in real life, said she easily related to her character.
“I felt it, it being so close to my child in that building — and like so close I couldn’t do anything, like helpless,” she said. “I literally started to cry. I got overwhelmed with the emotion that this really could be real.”
It took months to plan the drill involving so many agencies, including the Wayne Police Department, State Police and the Department of Homeland Security, Langford reported.
Wayne Mayor Christopher Vergano said law enforcement needs to be prepared.
“Unfortunately, this has become the new normal, and that’s what we’re seeing today,” Vergano said.
As for the students, the Board of Education trains them in different techniques throughout the year.
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