A police exercise is taking place at Western Connecticut State University's midtown campus today. Members of the Danbury and West Conn police departments will conduct a training exercise in the Litchfield Hall residence hall. It will affect traffic on Eighth Avenue from 7am to 4 pm. Eighth Avenue will be restricted to residents only during that time. Police officers, including members of the Danbury SWAT team, will be involved in the mock event so that police can practice what happens when there is an active shooter on campus.
University spokesman Paul Steinmetz says they've alerted the WCSU community that this exercise is happening and that police will be pretending there is someone with a gun in the residence hall. Steinmetz says WCSU police have been working with Danbury Police for several years on emergency response, which was ramped up since 9/11.
There is a protocol for incident command, and that's part of what this practice entails. Steinmetz says it depends on what type of emergency is taking place and what stage of the response they are in. The response will start with the WCSU Police Department. If it's a fire or similar incident, the Danbury Fire Department will take command. If it's a large event, Connecticut State Police will take over command operations.
Steinmetz says practicing the incident command chain is being done so responders know who plays what role, and so that various departments aren't asking a lot of questions during a real emergency. They can focus on responding and filling their own roles.