Micon 8 Cinemas in Chippewa Falls is transformed into a law enforcement training ground; all to make the public feel safer.
Several law enforcement agencies in our area participated in the active shooter training scenario at the movie theater.
The Aurora movie theater shooting in Denver last year spurred the training.
Officers say when it comes to the Chippewa Valley they always hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.
The Chippewa Falls Police Department, Lake Hallie Police Department and Chippewa County Sheriff's Department all took part in the 2-day rapid response training.
Officers say movie theaters typically hold a large number of people, which makes the facility a great training ground for any active shooter scenario in a larger business setting.
“There are a lot of people who go see the movies, and with a lot of people comes a lot of risk,” said Sheridan Pabst, firearms instructor with the Chippewa Falls Police Department.
When it comes to active shooter scenarios, officers typically work with schools.
Pabst says the theater gave officers ta new, more complex ground to train on.
“Once we know the layout of the building or any kind of a facility, we'll be able to react quicker; we'll know where nooks and crannies are,” explained Pabst.
All officers were divided into smaller multi-agency response groups;
using equipment they normally have available in their patrol cars.
“I think the best thing is that we got to work with other departments and we all received the same training, so when we do have to work together, it'll work more smoothly,” said Patrol Officer with the Chippewa County Sheriff’s Department Randy Stearns.
Even though the active shooting scenario is something all departments try to do every year Stearns says movie theaters are very different.
“Most of what I got out this is the mindset that in an active shooter (situation) you need to keep moving, towards your threat,” said Stearns, “if you hear shots fired in the back of the theater you're going to have people running out there ,and you still have to move past them and stop the treat.”
Officers say in the active shooter scenario they're going to treat everyone as a threat, until they figure out what is going on.
So if you ever find yourself in the situation like that, hold your hands high, where the officers can see them, and follow their directions.
“It’s really beneficial to be trained in something that hopefully never happens, but we want to train to be prepared in case something does happen,” added Pabst.