The call went out over a police radio channel shortly before 9 a.m. Wednesday: there’s an active shooter at Washington-Lee High School, with multiple gunshot victims.
Luckily, this was just a drill, an exercise that police and dispatchers used to prepare should such a nightmare scenario ever play out in Arlington.
In fact, Arlington County Police say they have been actively training since 1999 to handle a school shooting or any such “active shooter” situation, an all-too-common occurrence that has traumatized communities across the country.
The department also formed a “Tactical Training Unit” in 2013 to put an increased focus on the issue, providing each patrol officer with a minimum of six “training days” each year, according to a county fact sheet on the issue.
“Patrol officers participate in ‘no-notice’ training three times per year,” the fact sheet says. “This training requires on-duty police officers and firefighters to respond to a mock training scenario and practice integrating police and fire/EMS response to incidents such as ‘Active Violence Events.'”
The police department also has a full-time officer assigned to the county’s “High Threat Response Program” to coordinate how first responders manage such incidents across Arlington’s various departments.
All Arlington Public Schools also conduct at least four “lockdown” drills each year, coordinating with each building’s school resource officers for each one. Those officers also work with APS staff on “tabletop exercises in preparation for emergency situations,” the fact sheet said.