Columbine, L’Ecole Polytechnique and Sandy Hook, Connecticut are names of places we all recognize because of mass shootings. Nobody expects Whistler to be known for a violent shooting incident but 15 Sea to Sky RCMP members were at Whistler Secondary School this weekend training to respond to a violent incident.
S/Sgt Andy Leclair led the Immediate Action Rapid Deployment training.
“It’s training to deal with an active threat,” said Leclair near the end of the two-day session at the high school. “When somebody is driven just to hurt people and kill people the police need to respond as rapidly as possible. There’s no time to contain, there’s no time to negotiate. They simply have to move in and apprehend and stop the individual as quickly as possible to save lives.”
Leclair said the training program has been ongoing for the last few years across the police force.
Whistler Secondary was chosen as the training location because it is a relatively remote building where the RCMP members could train without attracting public attention. Leclair said there is no threat to the school.
The training is designed to protect students in school but Leclair said what the members learned is applicable to other places like a mall or Whistler’s Village Square, any place where people gather in large numbers.
“The training is very realistic, it’s scenario-based training,” said Leclair. “The RCMP pistols are converted to shoot paint pellets so it adds a sense of realism that if you do something wrong tactically you might get shot and it stings.”
The 15 people who went through the course were all regular members of the police force. Leclair said they received the additional training to add to their existing skills and knowledge.
“We have to prepare for the worst and obviously we hope for the best,” Leclair said.
Mass shootings of the kind the RCMP members trained for over the weekend are very topical with international news reports dominated by the details of a massive shopping mall shooting incident in Nairobi, Kenya. The death toll sits at 62 and is expected to climb as officials sort through rubble at the mall. At least 40 students were killed as they slept at a college in Nigeria. Religious extremists opposed to higher education are suspected in the attack. Also last week in Washington, DC a man identified as Aaron Alexis shot and killed 12 people on a naval base.