KILLEEN (July 23, 2012) --- Officers and deputies from the Lampasas Police Department, Lampasas County Sheriff's Office, Gatesville Police Department, Copperas Cove Police Department, and the Marble Falls Police Department were taking part in a two-day active shooter training program that started Monday in Lampasas.
The Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Program, or ALERRT, is based out of San Marcos at Texas State University and is funded through federal and state grants.
Since 2002 it has trained more than 40,000 law enforcement officers in tactics for dealing with an active shooter.
Tommy Villanueva, a lead instructor for the training and a San Marcos police officer, said it's important for officers to learn the skills because they could likely be the ones to first come into contact with a gunman who’s firing.
"It takes at least an hour for a SWAT team to get ready and deploy, so during that time innocent people could be killed and that's why we want to make sure our first responders know how to handle a shooter in that situation," Villanueva said.
On Monday officers took part in such exercises as team movement, threshold evaluation, shooting and moving, and room entry.
During the shooting and moving exercise officers were taught the importance of keeping their eyes on the shooter's hands and not his eyes.
Lampasas Police Officer Steven Sheldon said it was an important lesson because shooters will often hide weapons from officers who are approaching them.
"It's always important to keep an eye on their hands because the hands can get you killed, if they pull a gun and you don't see it," Sheldon said.
Sheldon said while the training was planned months ago, the deadly shooting Friday at an Aurora, Colorado movie theater underscored the importance of practicing similar scenarios.
"Something like that could happen anywhere, and we want to make sure we are prepared if it ever does," Sheldon said.
Each course will last for two days and be based on 16-hour training exercises. The second course will start Wednesday.