MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — The attack that killed five police officers and injured seven in Dallas has police departments in the Tri-State Area training for active shooter situations with added intensity.
As CBS2’s Lou Young reported, officers have come to realize that after Dallas, they themselves could be targets.
An active shooter drill in Mount Vernon took on added urgency Friday.
“I was upset this morning. I mean when I heard the news, and then I saw the video and I saw what was going on, I was mad and I was upset,” said Mount Vernon police Officer Michael Plunkett.
“It’s definitely a rough time for law enforcement – a sad day,” said Mount Vernon police Detective David Clarke.
It is especially difficult in Mount Vernon, a city that is more than half African-American. The Westchester County suburb has 66,000 residents and a police force of nearly 200 officers.
There is no side to take in Mount Vernon, just two painful realities to absorb.
“I’ve been black all my life,” said Mount Vernon police Lt. Richton Ziadie. “I can relate to both sides.”
“It wasn’t a good feeling in my gut,” said Mount Vernon police Det. Ronnie Williams. He said the Dallas attack had made training more urgent, “because the minute the phone rings or the radio goes off, a situation like this could potentially be what we’re responding to.”
And it could be not just a shooter, but a shooter hunting the officers themselves with military training and weapons.
“He was dropping ammo out of his pockets; I mean, he couldn’t even hold the ammo that he had that he was dropping,” Plunkett said, “and he was using an assault weapon against police officers who had handguns.”
It is about guns, race and police tactics. Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas said one does not supersede the other.
“Right now, we can’t allow our emotions to get the best of us, and my focus is through training, through planning, through engagement,” Thomas said.
“You have to take it seriously now,” said Mount Vernon police Detective Edward McCue. “It’s not just a training day, it’s like a reactive training day.”
Police stress that another important component of their training is now de-escalation – learning how to avoid violence in routine encounters with the public.