ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Bemidji area law enforcement participates in FBI rapid response training

Area law enforcement gathered at Central Elementary School early this week in an effort to combat this statistic during a Federal Bureau of Investigation rapid response training.

020222.N.BP.RAPIDRESPONSE - LEAD.jpg
Bemidji Police Officer Tabitha Carrigan, left, completes a training exercise on Monday, Jan. 31, 2022, during an FBI rapid response training for local law enforcement at Central Elementary.
Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer

BEMIDJI — Between the years 2000 and 2018, more than 800 people were killed in active shooter incidents.

Area law enforcement gathered at Central Elementary School early this week in an effort to combat this statistic during a Federal Bureau of Investigation rapid response training.

The training process was developed in 2002 by the ALERRT Center, or Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training, a branch of Texas State University. In 2013, ALERRT was named the National Standard in Active Shooter Response Training by the FBI. 

The 16-hour course was split into Monday and Tuesday sessions and drew about 50 officers from the Bemidji and Red Lake police departments and Beltrami and Cass County sheriff’s offices. 

Officers were divided into small groups as FBI trainers gave instruction in the hallways of the school, taking participants through a series of active shooter scenarios and demonstrating how to best deal with situations they might come across. 

ADVERTISEMENT

020222.N.BP.RAPIDRESPONSE - 5.jpg
Bemidji Police Captain David LaZella, left, and Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office Captain Jason Riggs explain the purpose of the FBI rapid response training to a group of local educators on Monday, Jan. 31, 2022, at Central Elementary.
Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer

Before officers got to scour the halls, though, they had to hit the books. 

Jason Riggs, a captain with the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office, said the training process consists of three phases — crawl, walk and run. The crawl phase, Riggs said, began Monday morning with classroom sessions.

“You start off with a lot of verbalization and a lot of instruction,” Riggs said about the first stage of the training. “As they keep moving forward they progress to the walk phase where they’re doing more without the instructors.” 

Riggs explained that officers would transition to the final phase on Tuesday, which includes simulating realistic active shooter situations.

“When they get to the run phase they’ll be using simulation rounds and live actors to use these same skills on,” Riggs said. 

020222.N.BP.RAPIDRESPONSE - 3.jpg
An instructor explains a training exercise to an officer on Monday, Jan. 31, 2022, during an FBI rapid response training for local law enforcement at Central Elementary.
Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer

Training importance

According to Bemidji Police Captain David LaZella, collaboration between local law enforcement and area schools made the event possible. 

“We’ve worked hard with (Superintendent) Tim Lutz and the safety committee to organize this," LaZella said.

ADVERTISEMENT

Local educators from Bemidji Area Schools and Bemidji charter schools were invited to observe a portion of Monday’s training, watching from a distance as groups of officers received instruction from the FBI and practiced drills in the hallways. 

020222.N.BP.RAPIDRESPONSE - 2.jpg
Local educators from Bemidji Area Schools and Bemidji charter schools gather to observe an FBI rapid response training on Monday, Jan. 31, 2022, at Central Elementary.
Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer

“It’s important for (educators) to know what we’re doing so that they know how to deal with their staff and students in any building they might be in,” LaZella said, “so they can feel safe as well.” 

LaZella explained that officers at the training were learning the ropes of ALERRT’s Level 1 course, which is taught to agencies throughout the country.

“Level 1 is a course in active threat response,” he said. “It’s designed to be a simple, standard, national set of skills that the FBI can teach to everybody so we all know what we’re doing anytime we respond to something like this.” 

020222.N.BP.RAPIDRESPONSE - 4.jpg
Local educators from Bemidji Area Schools and Bemidji charter schools observe an FBI rapid response training for local law enforcement on Monday, Jan. 31, 2022, at Central Elementary.
Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer
020222.N.BP.RAPIDRESPONSE - 6.jpg
Participants conduct a training exercise on Monday, Jan. 31, 2022, during an FBI rapid response training for local law enforcement at Central Elementary.
Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer

Though an ALERRT training was also held last year in Park Rapids for area law enforcement , LaZella said the level of participation has increased, with about 70% of Bemidji police officers and 50% of Beltrami County deputies in attendance at this year's course. 

“We were fortunate last year to have (an ALERRT training), and this (FBI) team has been to Bemidji now for the second time,” he said. “What doesn’t happen very often is to get an opportunity to send almost all of our department.” 

After Central Elementary closed its doors following the 2021 school year, the empty building offered the perfect space to host the training. For LaZella, the unique opportunity to hold the course in a school enhances the experience for the officers and makes the training feel more realistic.

020222.N.BP.RAPIDRESPONSE - 8.jpg
Bemidji Police Officer Tabitha Carrigan completes an exercise during an FBI rapid response training for local law enforcement on Monday, Jan. 31, 2022, at Central Elementary.
Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer

“It’s unheard of to actually have this training in a school building, that doesn’t happen very often,” LaZella remarked. “We have this resource and the school has been so gracious to let us use it, we’re so thankful.” 

ADVERTISEMENT

He added that the importance of the training lies in local law enforcement being fully prepared to protect the community if an active shooter situation were to happen.

“The goal is to make sure everybody in these buildings is safe at all times and in all the school facilities in our community,” LaZella said. “Even though we’re directing it at the school, these principles still apply to hospitals, our municipal buildings downtown, anything on a larger scale where something like this could happen.” 

020222.N.BP.RAPIDRESPONSE - 7.jpg
An instructor explains a training exercise on Monday, Jan. 31, 2022, during an FBI rapid response training for local law enforcement at Central Elementary.
Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer
020222.N.BP.RAPIDRESPONSE - 9.jpg
Local educators from Bemidji Area Schools and Bemidji charter schools observe an FBI rapid response training for local law enforcement on Monday, Jan. 31, 2022, at Central Elementary.
Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer

Related Topics: BEMIDJI AREA SCHOOLS
Madelyn Haasken is the multimedia editor at the Bemidji Pioneer. She is a 2020 graduate of Bemidji State University with a degree in Mass Communication, with minors in writing and design. In her free time, she likes watching hockey, doing crossword puzzles and being outside.
What To Read Next
The Parkinson's Support Group is set to meet at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 8, at Sanford Health Windsong, 1010 Anne St. NW.
Bemidji Chamber Ambassadors recently congratulated leaders of Aurora Waasakone Community of Learners on opening their new school, located at 3604 Bemidji Ave. North, in Bemidji.
Students in the news
The Headwaters Quilt Guild of Bemidji will host its monthly meeting at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 7, at A Stitch in Time, 200 Paul Bunyan Drive S, Suite No. 2.