Staying ahead of mass casualty situations in Santa Cruz

Staying ahead of mass casualty situations in Santa Cruz

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. - A Central Coast Police Department is working to stay ahead of threats from shooters. Officers are now taking new training to help them be better prepared for potential mass casualty situations.

Santa Cruz Police Chief Andy Mills took to his blog to post about how prepared officers are to assess mass casualty threats.

He says there have been three incidents in the past six months that could've escalated to an active shooter situation.

And now, the department is making some changes.

It's a story we tell far too often. Deadly mass shootings have become almost regular events.

And the potential for that here, is very real.

Mills says there have been three recent cases that could've turned tragic.

"A small child who had made threats to the school and we investigated and there was a gun accessible to this person, we had another threat of a person standing on the boardwalk with what looked like a fully automatic weapon and made some threats about shooting up a school."

And the third involved officers taking 20 guns from one person.

While these all ended without shots fired, Mills says there's still work to be done.

He says officers lack specific training in threat assessment, and right now are making judgments based on mental health or criminal history.

"That's insufficient. That's what most police departments are doing across the country and so we took a look at that and our thinking was...well if we can adequately protect the president of the united states, why couldn't we protect our schools and our most vulnerable locations?"

Starting this week, officers will go through a threat assessment protocol where they'll learn about the latest research on pre-incident behaviors and signals of active shooters.

But it's not just the department's fight. Mills credits the community.

"All three of those, came from community members. And that's why it's so important for the community to be aware of these things and for us now to take the time to run these things to the ground completely."

This threat assessment training will start Tuesday.

At the end of it, officers will be giving feedback about what can be done better to meet the needs of the department and to continue their efforts to prevent tragedy.

To check out Mills' blog post, click here.

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