University police hold active shooter training at Koch Arena


Eduardo Castillo

WSUPD officer engaging in active shooter training excercise. This excercise was performed inside Charles Koch arena.

Commands echoed through Charles Koch Arena as the Wichita State Police Department held active shooter training Wednesday morning.

Fourteen members of the department took part in the drills from 7:30-11 a.m. Officers were given a scenario in which there had been a shooting in Koch Arena and they had to find the shooter. They moved in teams, and, room by room, cleared restrooms, hallways, and closets.

While the arena has heard its share of yelling and witnessed plenty of heart-stopping moments, there’s been nothing like the team of officers moving with intention down corridors and across the court with practice rifles.

“Stay on the level that you’re on — don’t give up that ground,” Sgt. Kyle Garwood instructed the officers as he stood on the stairs above the basketball court.

After walking everyone through the building, Garwood and Capt. Cory Herl explained what was expected of the officers and broke the group into teams. The teams moved in opposite directions through the arena, until they met in the middle.

“Blue coming out. Blue coming out,” an officer shouted after entering a restroom to clear the room. Before exiting, he let the team know he was about to emerge.

Chief Rodney Clark said his officers were using the same tactics employed in the military. He said the training would work for a variety of scenarios where they needed to find an assailant.

“Searching for a suspect — it’s not necessarily an active shooter,” Clark said. “Let’s say somebody has done something, violence or something of that nature, in the arena, and we’re going to search for them because you don’t know when something could change.

These are tactics where you’re on guard.”

One of the themes of the event was effective communication. During link-ups, when different groups of officers converge at a single point, communication can be difficult. There’s always room for communication to improve, Garwood told the team.

“It’s really good training,” Officer Brandon Dorion said. “I think that it’s important for us to train together and be able to coordinate a response like this. It’s vital for the safety of everybody. It’s an action plan that we need to have in place.”

Clark said that if you’re at a game and see a group of officers moving in formation down a hallway or aisle, the best thing to do is simply listen to their commands. Listening to commands and keeping your hands visible are the two ways that you can help yourself and responding officers in a volatile situation, he said.

“I think we’re pretty well-prepared,” Officer Patrick Bruce said.

This was the first training Chief Clark has held at Koch Arena. He said he’d like to conduct more training there with the Student Housing Department and other campus groups in the future.