An elementary school is under siege. Bodies litter the hallways and an active shooter is on the loose.
It’s a scenario that’s unfolded several times in the United States in recent years. But this time, it’s York Police who are storming a local school, guns drawn.
Thankfully, it’s just a police training exercise, and for the first time ever they’ve allowed CityNews cameras to document their preparations.
“I’d love to say it will never happen and I hope it never happens, but you’d certainly appreciate it if it did happen that our members are ready for it,” Sgt. Jeff Nolan told The Inside Story.
Every single police officer in York Region will train for mass shootings like the ones that devastated Columbine, Sandy Hook, and Virginia Tech.
Virginia Tech was the worst school massacre in U.S. history, with 32 killed and 17 wounded.
Kristina Anderson is a Virginia Tech survivor and she’s helping York police understand the grim reality of such a situation.
“They came in three times…and they shot me three times,” she recalled. “I was trying to hold my stomach in to pretend like I was dead.”
“When I first started speaking I thought ‘why would anyone want to hear this horrible story about the worst day of my life?’
“Then I realized that they (police) train and prepare 365 days a year for what we’ve gone through, but very infrequently do they get a first-hand account of what it’s like.”
With her help, York police recreate the horrific scenes.
“Our purpose is to provide them training, as realistically as possible,” said York Staff Sgt. John Giandrande.
There have also been changes to protocol when it comes to an active shooter situation.
Police used to be directed to wait until back-up arrived before entering a school – now they’re told to storm the school, even if it’s just a lone officer.
“If we were just to wait outside for our tactical units, every time there is a bang, we can assume that somebody is dying,” said Sgt. Nolan.
For details on Kristina Anderson’s foundation to make schools safer – http://koshkafoundation.org