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Wayne Twp. Police drill through the halls and classrooms of Wayne Valley HS in an effort to upgrade their response to the possibility of an active shooter.
Chris Pedota/NorthJersey.com

WAYNE — Outside Wayne Valley High School, a team of four police officers, two armed with handguns and two with rifles, filed into the school on “reports” of an active shooter in the building.

The response was a “drill, and only a drill” said a dispatcher on the sidewalk in front of the school. The live rounds had been removed from the officers’ firearms as part of the training exercise.

The drill is conducted three times a year at rotating locations, so officers township-wide become acquainted with each school, regardless of their patrol zone. In the event of an active shooter situation in the township, the hands-on training ensures they’re prepared, said instructor Sgt. Rodrigo Daroch of the tactical unit.

“I like to learn by doing,” said Detective Joseph Rude, one of the 15 officers and dispatchers at the training. “It’s useful for the newest guy up to the chief to see what we’re learning today.”

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The bulk of the morning was spent reviewing tactics for maneuvering hallways and taking control of rooms in active shooter situations. In the afternoon, they put their skills to the test with the help of their counterparts in police dispatch.

“We really wanted dispatch to join us… to see what we go through,” and vice versa, said tactical instructor Lt. Robert Franco.

Police dispatchers receive 911 calls dialed in from the public, as well as relay and gather information from officers on the scene of a crime or incident. In the event of an emergency, dispatchers may field dozens of calls and are tasked with weighing the importance of each incoming call, while delivering accurate details to responding officers.

“It’s helpful on our end to find out what we need and don’t need and can filter out” during emergency calls, said dispatcher Cindy Kozrosh.