Law enforcement officials train for mass shootings inside church

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HARTLAND (WITI) -- They are tragedies recognizable by the cities they occurred in: Newtown, Aurora and Oak Creek. Locations that were not expected: a school, a movie theater and a temple.  Law enforcement officials say they are not waiting for the next tragedy to be prepared.  In March, law enforcement officials held a first of its kind training exercise in a place officers have never trained before -- a church.

"We know the sooner we get in, the more efficient you get in. The less chance a fatality is occurring," Brian Dorow said.

Dorow is the Dean of Criminal Justice at Waukesha County Technical College.  He explains no place can be considered off limits when it comes to mass shootings in our society these days.  He says officers need to be prepared for every scenario.

"Training, training, training.  It's the most important thing," Dorow said.

Recently, more than two dozen officers worked with four law enforcement experts from WCTC to learn the skills needed to tackle the challenges of a mass shooting tragedy.  Volunteers from Westbrook Church in Hartland acted as role players, as law enforcement officials ran scenarios inside the church.

"Our desire is to bless the law enforcement community.  We are really grateful for all of the work that they do and feel this is a way that we can give back to them," senior pastor Scott Grabendike said.

Grabendike gave the go ahead for the group to train inside the church's auditorium.  It's a place that holds hundreds of parishioners on weekends.

"We don't fool ourselves into thinking we are the exception to the rule.  We are vulnerable like any church," Grabendike said.

WCTC says shootings at the Sikh Tempe in Oak Creek, which killed six, and the Azana Salon & Spa shooting in Brookfield, which killed three, are the most recent examples of why this type of training is necessary.

"Obviously the active shooter, the mass murderer is not particular to location," WCTC instructor Michael Kuspa said.

The church says this will not be the last time they allow WCTC to use the facility to train law enforcement.

"If it helps us as a church, that's wonderful.  If it helps another church, if it helps the law enforcement community, it is a win-win," Grabendike said.