SWAT Team Trains at Oakwood Mall

By: Lindsay Veremis Email
By: Lindsay Veremis Email

The SWAT division of the Eau Claire Police Department completed a variety of training scenarios, using a vacant store, the cafe court and several other areas of the mall not open to the public.

The drills were all part of a series of tactical training exercises completed throughout the city aimed at preparing police SWAT and canine units to cope with any situation.

"One of the things we try to do as a tactical team, is we try to do a lot of realistic training so we do quite a bit of that throughout the year, where we go into actual places, a house, apartments, whatever we can get to keep our training as real as possible," Tactical Commander Randy Fahrenkrog said.

He says Eau Claire's tactical unit trains eight hours each month using a different location as often as possible. And after the recent mall shooting in Salt Lake City, he says officers realized a crowded mall was one scenario they weren't prepared for.

"We have to be able to respond quickly and to take the time to try to figure out the layout of the mall, where the store is, where the problem is, that's a lot of time wasted that we should already know about," Fahrenkrog said.

So, mall security led officers through a full tour of the mall, to learn the layout of stores, hallways and corridors to make a quick response possible.

Then, the drills began, as officers completed a variety of exercises including a canine search and suspect arrest. Commander Fahrenkrog says the mall training will benefit both, the SWAT team and the public, helping shoppers stay safe and officers to move efficiently.

And if you are ever a bystander in a hostile situation, Fahrenkrog says first, get away if you can, stay low because the team will be looking for a running suspect, and most importantly give the officers the room they need to do their job.

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