_____________________________ ST. NORBERT CHURCH           RATES ________________________         EBOOK



PRACTICING READINESS: from (l-r) Jon O’Brien L.A. County Deputy Fire Chief, Matthew Hall Biola University Provost and Senior Vice President, Michael Thompson Chief at Arizona State University, John Ojeisekhoba Biola University Associate Vice President and Chief of Campus Safety, Melvin Murdock Chief at Tulsa Community College, Oklahoma, and John Lewis La Mirada City Councilmember. Photo by Stepheny Gehrig.

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March 3, 2023

By Stepheny Gehrig

Shots firing, students running,  and smoke in the air were part of the scene this past Tuesday in La Mirada as Biola University held an active-shooter training exercise.

First responders, including multiple local police and fire departments, were on site and participated in the training. 

A statement released by Biola University listed an impressive list of participants, which included personnel from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Tactics and Survival Training Unit; Norwalk Sheriff’s Station Personnel; Biola University Department of Campus Safety; President of the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators; Cerritos College Police Department; the Office of Protective Services Metropolitan State Hospital; Whittier Police Department; Brea Police Department, and Personnel from the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

The training took place on Biola’s Metzger Lawn and library but was closed to the public, including Biola students and staff who were not volunteers and those that were. 

Students and staff of Biola who volunteered to participate in the training as role players evacuated the buildings or were injured. Makeup was used to complete the artificial but realistic injuries the role players obtained. 

The simulation began promptly at 9 a.m. The training consisted of two portions; both parts began in the same fashion and contained flashbangs, which emit a loud noise and bright light, along with simulated gunfire and smoke machines. 

However, the second portion saw the arrival of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Special Enforcement Bureau by helicopter and other vehicles. The helicopter circled the campus perimeter before pausing as a first responder propelled down to the scene. 

“The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Special Enforcement Bureau (equivalent to a SWAT unit) will respond via helicopter and bearcat armored vehicles,” according to a statement released by Biola University.  

With recent active shooter tragedies in California and across the United States, maintaining preparedness is crucial. Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna emphasized the significance of intricate training. 

“In the wake of recent active shooter tragedies that we have unfortunately encountered ourselves here, local or in Monterey Park, north of us in Oakland and Half Moon Bay, it is important that law enforcement in Los Angeles County, along with our law enforcement partners, work together communicate and coordinate to ensure safety on all of our campuses across Los Angeles County,” Luna said. 

Occurring every five years, this detailed active shooter training is imperative for all first responders as it provides a method of learning, gives the opportunity to reassess their responses and, primarily, allows the first responders to maintain their preparedness.

“When you look at this crisis, you wonder ‘Is it more people with cameras, better reporting by the media?’ Although all that could be true, at the end of the day, we have more shootings,” Luna said. “This is where we do challenge our leaders at a national level to do more about guns, to do more about mental health so that we don’t have to do this over and over, but here we sit ready to respond to anything that may come our way anywhere we’re called.”

La Mirada City Councilman John Lewis attended the event and told Los Cerritos Community News, “These active shooter training drills are not only necessary to coordinate the multi-agency task force that is needed to respond to any and all threats to our local schools and campuses here in the city but also a reminder that these types of dangers do not just affect our school campuses, but have an effect on the entire city as a whole. An attack on our kids is an attack on the city, and we are grateful for Biola University taking the lead on these critical issues. These types of drills must be appropriately integrated into all our school campuses throughout the city.”