Testing its readiness for an active shooter, the University of California, Davis, deployed its campus safety officers in a realistic emergency drill that included an exploding vehicle, smoke-filled buildings and simulated gunfire.
Details oft the drill, which was dubbed “Operation Gallant Eagle,” were withheld from armed campus officers, so the campus police department could gain an accurate evaluation of its strengths and weaknesses, Chief Annette Spicuzza said.
“We wanted to see how well we would respond to a violent incident on campus,” Spicuzza said. “We wanted to find where we were solid, and we also wanted to see those areas that were not as solid.”
The drill began with a report of a suspicious vehicle on campus. Three officers responded to investigate, only to have the vehicle explode when it came into view. The officers eventually tracked two “suspects” (local community theater actors playing active shooters) into a two-story building.
With smoke in the building, UC Davis police officers entered the first floor and proceeded to the “hot zone” on the second floor. Officers and the suspects exchanged fire using Simunition rounds (small pellets that explode paint). Other “victims” wore bandages and were treated at the scene.
Spicuzzo said feedback about the exercise is still being analyzed, but the department realized the incident commander needed a smart phone rather than a cell phone to send and receive e-mail at the scene.
The drill was run from the campus Emergency Operations Center. More than 200 volunteers of faculty, staff, students, friends and outside agencies (including the Yolo County Bomb Squad and federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) participated. The drill took place Sept. 17.
Photo by Karin Higgins, UC Davis.