Cicero Police launch active-shooter response training for town employees

Department-specific plans will be reviewed during April's safety meeting

CICERO, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) - After recent threats of violence and the deadly mass shooting in Parkland, Fla., last month, Cicero Police say they have received numerous requests from neighbors for training on what to do in an active shooter situation.

For police and town leaders, starting the training inside Cicero Town Hall was the first step.

More than 40 Town of Cicero employees gathered Tuesday morning for a Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events Course.

"We're not asking people to be heroes and take down shooters and what not," said Sgt. Jim Snell, of the Cicero Police Department. "To be the hero, is to step up and to coordinate and get everybody out or follow the avoid, deny, defend method."

For Tuesday's training, Snell used the Avoid Deny Defend model -- a well-known program developed at Texas State University.

The first option is to avoid. Snell says you need to be aware of your surroundings, find an exit, get away from the shooter and call 911.

The next option Snell stresses is to deny.

Snell says you should not give the shooter access to where you are. If you're inside a room and the door opens toward you, shut it and block it with as many heavy items as you can.

If the door opens out into the hallway, shut and use a belt or rope to pull it toward you as tight as you can. If you have people with you, have them help you keep the door shut while keeping everyone away from any windows in the door.

The third option is to defend.

Snell demonstrated one quick example and described it as putting force on the shooter's arms making it hard to raise the gun.

In an active shooter situation, Snell says you have the legal right to defend yourself.

More training will happen for Cicero employees, but Snell said defense tactics won't be the focus.

"The defend part -- come last and hopefully people don't have to do that, but the avoid and deny part is really what's going to save the lives and what's really important," Snell said. "The tactical aspects will include a lot of training and that's not our forte in dealing with citizen tactics."

For police, Snell says their priority list on an active-shooter scene is to first, stop the killing and go after the shooter. Next, they help care for anyone who is wounded and third, they will work to evacuate the building or area where the shooting happened. 

Cicero Town Supervisor Mark Venesky says next month's safety meeting will focus on specific active shooter response plans for town offices.

"I would like every department head to have a plan. I don't want a suggestion -- I want a plan," Venesky said. "If something happens, this is how we get out of the building. This is how we respond."

Cicero Police are offering a free training session to town businesses, community groups and town residents on March 24. The session will run from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Registration is not required, but preferred so officers can plan accordingly for the size of the group attending. To register for the session, click here

Sgt. Snell says any town businesses or community groups unable to attend the March 24 training can reach out to the department about scheduling a session.

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