“It’s on every chiefs’ mind,” Newtown Township police Chief Henry "Rick" Pasqualini said, referring to active shooter situations. “It could happen anywhere.”
Later this week, officers from Newtown Township, Newtown Borough and Northampton will be training for an active shooter incident at Council Rock High School South. Training will also be held in the coming weeks at Council Rock High School North.
Officers participating in the multi-jurisdictional training exercise, which was planned before the recent shootings, will practice the latest tactics used by law enforcement in active shooter situations within a school or other building, the chief told Patch.
Although active shooter situations are rare, in the past year, Newtown officers have responded to two incidents where their specialized training has come into play.
During Hurricane Irene in August of 2011, Newtown Township officers and the Central Bucks Special Response Team (CBSRT) assisted in the manhunt for a former Army captain who killed four people before shooting at police in Dolyestown. The armed suspect, Leonard John Egland, was found dead of a self-inflicted wounds in Warwick hours after the manhunt began.
In June, Newtown police officers were among the first to come the aid of Doylestown police when a disgruntled New Jersey police officer began firing hundreds of rifle rounds at responding officers. In the end, the subject surrendered after an hours-long standoff that involved hundreds of authorities from dozens of agencies.
Both the township, borough and Northampton are members of the CBSRT. The team, which is one of three in Bucks County, is comprised of tactically trained officers and crisis negotiators from more than 15 Bucks County departments.
Officers from the township and borough are part of the Bucks County Major Incident Response Team (MIRT), a unit that responds to major incidents and events. The large unit acts as a force multiplier for local police in the county. Nearly every department in the county is represented in the Major Incident Response Team.
Special vehicles and equipment, like a Lenco Bearcat, several vans and an armored personnel carrier, are used by the CBSRT and MIRT during their deployments.
Every Newtown Township patrol car is “well equipped,” Pasqualini said. Each patrol unit is armed with a handgun, shotgun and patrol rifle.
Training exercises like the one set to held at Council Rock South are key for police, the chief said.
Patrol officers often train with firearms at the department’s gun range while CBSRT members gather to train once or twice a month, Pasqualini stated.
“There’s no way to stop events, but there are ways to mitigate them.”