KANSAS CITY, Mo. — What if an active shooter situation happened in Kansas City?
“We are past the 'if part' and it’s almost a 'when,'” said Ofc. Jerron Forte, Regional Police Academy instructor.
Responses to shootings in Uvalde, Texas, and Nashville, Tennessee, were vastly different. In Uvalde, police waited in the hallway. In Nashville, the response was swift.
The KSHB 41 I-Team wanted to know how police would respond here.
As a result, the I-Team got an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at how the Regional Police Academy trains future officers.
We spoke with the following people to better understand their perspectives:
- Ofc. Jerron Forte, an instructor at the Regional Police Academy
- Charlvette Williamson, a recruit at the Regional Police Academy
- Sgt. Matthew Payne, an instructor who has responded to an active shooter situation in the past
- Ofc. David Hoffman, an instructor at the Regional Police Academy
- Matthew Vest, a recruit at the Regional Police Academy
HOW RECRUITS TRAIN FOR ACTIVE SHOOTER SITUATIONS
The I-Team attended two active shooter trainings over the course of a few months.
One training was at a hotel. The tactics learned in this instance can apply to any active shooter situation, like at a business or school.
Charlvette Williamson, a recruit with the Regional Police Academy, told the I-Team she recently returned to Kansas City to pursue a career in law enforcement.
“It’s going to be stressful, but breathing through it,” Williamson said.
Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department Ofc. Jerron Forte showed the recruits different techniques to prepare them for the final test, including how to enter a room, move through a hallway with multiple officers and identify the active shooter.
“This training is more important now than ever,” Forte said.
When it comes to how agencies respond, Forte told investigator Cameron Taylor the KC-area's philosophy is "by any means necessary." Forte elaborated, explaining the focus is not only to look for the active shooter but to care for victims.
So in training, recruits must address what they see, take in the information and make a decision.
All considered, Williamson said the pressure was on.
“Yes, my adrenaline was pumping, like it was through the roof,” Williamson said.
FBI DESIGNATED 50 SHOOTINGS AS ACTIVE SHOOTER INCIDENTS IN 2022
The FBI designated 50 shootings in 2022 as active shooter incidents.
Nearly half happened in open spaces and fewer than 10% occurred in schools and homes.
In 2022, the active shooter incidents decreased by 18% from the year prior. But, overall, the number of incidents is up 67% from 2018.
Many in Kansas City remember the Ward Parkway Mall shooting from 2007. Two people were shot and killed.
The shooter, a former Target employee, was killed by police.
“Our intent is to go there and stop the violence,” said KCPD Sgt. Matthew Payne.
Payne was on the tactical team when the mall shooting happened. He responded after the threat had been stopped to assist in clearing the area.
“What we’re trying to accomplish here is that you get the training, you have the confidence, you know what you need to do,” Payne said.
PREPARING FOR THE FINAL TEST
In another active shooter scenario, recruits are dispatched to a business. They later find out they’re responding to an active shooter.
“It’s kind of their 'finals week' of their police training here at the academy,” said KCPD Ofc. David Hoffman.
Hoffman described it as situational training.
“It’s one of the few times in our training where we go, we put a priority on our suspect to just try to limit the amount of loss of life during those incidents,” he said.
After the training, the I-Team spoke with one of the recruits, Matthew Vest, who responded to the threat.
“It’s probably one of the most important things we do. It’s real life,” Vest said.
In the near future, Williamson's class will also get the chance to test their skills.
“Honestly, you just never know what kind of things they might set up for us to see how we might respond,” Williamson said.
When it’s time, she knows she’ll be ready, thanks to the bond she’s formed with other recruits.
“That you don’t always have to make yourself seen," Williamson said. "You can actually be a little bit more discrete and call for help when you need help."