The Secaucus Police Department along, with other local first responders, conducted an active shooter drill at their local high school early this morning.
By Daniel Ulloa/Hudson County View
“Although the Secaucus Police Department routinely trains in active shooter response, I feel the effectiveness of that training needs to be tested under the most realistic conditions possible,” Police Chief Dennis Miller said.
“Tactical professionals from the New Jersey State Police and the Hudson County Regional SWAT Team will evaluate and critique my officers’ response and actions during the drill, which will only enhance our effectiveness and maximize the safety of both the citizenry and our first responders.”
There were no students on the property during the drill, which began around 7 a.m., though administrators and volunteer teachers from the Secaucus Public Schools were present to add realism to the event.
The scenario was developed by the Secaucus Police Department’s Planning, Special Events and Intelligence Section, headed by Capt. Carlos Goyenechea.
He explained that four suspects were role played and started with a motor vehicle crash. Teams of officers then sought to close in on the shooters, advancing through the school.
“Local police departments are the first responders in most active shooter incidents, so it is vital that local police officers have the best training possible. I commend the Secaucus Police Department for doing all they can to ensure the safety of the community,” added Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez.
The exercise also involved the New Jersey State Police, the Secaucus Fire Department, as well as EMS from Hudson Regional Hospital.
The Secaucus Office of Emergency Management, Hudson County Office of Emergency Management and Secaucus Department of Public Works also participated.
Officers of the North Bergen Police Department were observing the drill as part of their own training and preparation. More than 100 officers were involved when combined all the personnel from the different agencies.
“While we certainly hope the training and protocols put in place to deal with an active shooter never have to be used, I am thankful that our police department is conducting the training, so they are prepared to protect our community against all potential threats,” explained Mayor Michael Gonnelli.
“I am so proud of the men and women of our police department who, in my opinion, are among the best in the country.”
He observed the drill, as did Councilmen John Gerbasio and James Clancy.
“Participating in the Secaucus police active shooter drill supports our mission to provide safe and effective care to our Secaucus community,” stated Sheryl Syby, assistant vice president of nursing for Hudson Regional Hospital.
“We commend Chief Miller and his staff as well as all the law enforcement teams that are collaborating on this initiative for helping teachers and administrators feel better prepared for even the unimaginable.”
The police employed advanced technology developed by a private firm to map the school and track the officers on the map via their phones to better coordinate support.
They prepped for the possibility of coping with injured and dead bodies. While a potential victim had a theoretical arm wound was treated with a tourniquet, they left him there since the area would not be safe for him to be removed.
They sought to make the drill as realistic as possible, Miller noted. They used fake guns and ammo during the scenario and made a it point for every officer to check their gun and be patted down as well to ensure no one is injured.
In a brief interview, Secaucus Police Lt. Scott Coar said that 10 to 15 officers could arrive on the scene in the first 10 minutes of being alerted.
He also said 200 cops could realistically arrive within 20 minutes, with support from the North Bergen and Union City Police Departments close by.
Miller explained that in a school shooting, since shooters can rarely be negotiated with, the incident usually ends in the death of the shooter by the police or their own hand.
The Secaucus police took advantage of the school being closed for a teacher convention to hold the drill. It was supposed to be held on September 2nd, but was postponed due to Hurricane Ida.
A longer clip of the officers being debriefed streamed live on our Facebook page can be viewed below: