Bothell-Kenmore Reporter July 25, 2007

By Joshua Adam Hicks

Sociopaths beware. Law enforcement personnel are learning new tactics for taking out gunmen who threaten the public with deadly rampages. The latest strategies combine SWAT-team aggressiveness with the quick-response capabilities of patrol officers, and virtually every beat cop has learned the Active Shooter and Patrol (ASAP) techniques.

Kenmore deputy Nick Minzghor runs one of the most advanced ASAP training programs in the country. He held three straight courses during the month of July. Officers from as far away as Jacksonville County Florida attended the sessions, which include four 10-hour classes apiece. Participants practice live scenarios for nearly six hours on the final day.

"It's nice to have confidence knowing that you're prepared," said King County Sheriff's Deputy Peter Cougan. "Repetition in stressful situations gives you something to fall back on. It eliminates the thought process, and you automatically know what to do."

ASAP training teaches officers to eliminate the source of a threat by confronting it with swift, violent action. That tactic differs from those practiced during everyday patrol activities. "It's a mental shift going after gunfire rather than taking cover from it," said King County Sheriff's deputy Chad Devore. "You have to go from defensive to offensive mode."

Officers with ASAP training can be geared up and ready to eliminate the threat in as little as seven minutes, which is faster than SWAT teams. "They'll be there way before us," said Deputy Pete Gaiser, a member of the King County Sheriff's SWAT team. "We end up getting there anywhere between 45 minutes and two hours, depending on where everyone's at." All SWAT team members go through the ASAP program so they understand the tactics of the patrol officers who arrive before them.

Training requirements vary depending on the agency. Most King County Sheriff's deputies working with contracted departments do 40 hours of training, plus quarterly refresher courses. Minzghor runs Active Shooter Training LLC in his spare time. The company specializes in training active shooter team leaders and instructors, as well as tactical response shooting and awareness courses for school officials.

"The awareness class basically explains what they should expect from a police response, what we expect from them, and how we can work together, "he said. Minzghor encourages school districts to have a policy for handling shooting situations rather than leaving it up to individual schools to create plans.
He also says that schools should carry out lock down practices at less than ideal times so that students and faculty are ready for chaos at inopportune moments.

Minzghor's qualifications come from 19 years on the force, include six years of SWAT experience and more than 3,000 hours of tactical and weapons training. He has also logged more than 5,000 instructing tactics and weapons training at the department and state level. Minzghor will undergo more training in September to learn about tactical responses to terror incidents like the one that occurred in Beslan, Russia, when a group of militants massacred hostages that they had taken at a school. "It's really only a matter of time before we have a terrorist event like that in this country," Minzghor said. "I think it's important for us to start preparing for that."

ASAP trained officers say they will be ready for the situation if it ever arises. "When someone like a terrorist enters a building, it's going to be a bad day, "Minzghor said. "People are going to die; we have to take some action so they're forced to engage us rather than killing innocent people."

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