Active shooter situations have become more common in the United States from schools to places of worship. Connecticut State Police in Tolland want to make sure area businesses are prepared for a worst-case scenario.
On Friday they hosted an active aggressor training at the Tolland Library so if there were a situation of that caliber, business owners have to foundation to put a plan in place.
“The reality of the world is this is something we have to consider. And when you have to consider it, then you have to somewhat prepare for it the best you can,” said Mike Smida. He is one of the owners of Star Hill Family Athletic Center in Tolland.
The approximately 140-square foot facility can see about 3,000 people on any winter weekend, according to Smida, which is why he said he needs to put a plan in place in case there ever is an active aggressor or shooter.
“If something did happen, we would jump into the right action as opposed to sitting there and just panicking,” Smida said. “I always feel better if I have a plan and I can follow it even in the worst of circumstances.”
He and representatives from about 10 other Tolland business spent part of the day at active aggressive training led by state police.
It’s part of a community policing initiative that was at no cost to the community.
“Obviously the climate today in society with all of these going on, we felt it was really important to do that,” Tolland Administrative Resident State Trooper Kevin Eklund said.
Over 70 percent of active shooter events happen in less than five minutes and often, they’re pre-planned, said troopers leading the course. That’s why it’s so important to pay attention to any warning signs ahead of time, find a way to notify the people around you that there is an emergency—especially if you work in a large facility and staff is scattered—and have a plan to react.
“We want to be prepared for any occasion, for any type of public that comes through our doors,” said Kathy Bach, president of the Tolland Historical Society and the director of the Old Tolland County Jail and Museum. In her position, she works with seventh to 12th graders and wants to make sure they’re safe.
Gail Otis is the executive director of the Preschool of the Arts. There are three locations, two of which are in Tolland. She hopes to develop a plan with the information she learned from this meeting.
“It’s terrifying thinking what we would have to do in that case. But we want to be fully prepared,” Otis said.
The superintendent of Tolland Public Schools was also in attendance though they have separate training and plans.
Local state police and firefighters will go around to businesses and do a risk assessment of their facility.
Troopers also hope to hold training for even more businesses in the new year.