MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Law enforcement across the state are learning how to handle a critical incident from officers and victims of the San Bernardino terrorist attack.
The Minnesota State Association of Narcotics Investigators and the Department of Public Safety’s Office of Justice Program are responsible for bringing this training to Minnesota, and they hope the lessons learned will help Minnesota first responders handle whatever situation crosses their path.
Thirty-six people were shot at the Inland Regional Center in December 2015, and 14 died.
Law enforcement was applauded for quick action that led to the arrest of a shooter.
Now, they travel the country with victims of the attack.
Only on WCCO, Reg Chapman reports on how they’re preparing others to handle tragedy.
“I sat at the front of the room and watched it happen,” Ray Britain said.
Britain was leading training at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino in 2015 when bullets rang out.
“I was able to get out of the room on his second magazine charge,” Britain said.
He said the events of that day continue to haunt him.
“I could see the rifle action, I can see the empty shell casings — I could not hear the recoil of the rifle any longer,” Britain said.
More importantly, he said, lessons from that day drive him to help law enforcement and others understand what it takes to truly put victims at ease.
“When we arrived on scene, they thought we were the bad guys because of the way the SWAT team was dressed,” said San Bernardino Sgt. Gary Schuelke.
Sgt. Schuelke played a critical role in tracking down the two suspects responsible for the terrorist attack on the IRC.
He says Britain and other survivors have been instrumental in educating officers on the impact their training has on the people they serve and protect.
“Their perspective was very impactful on me and has changed the way that I deal with victims of crime on any scale now,” Schuelke said.
Schuelke works with victims like Britain to train law enforcement, and this training is for victim advocates as well.
“I think by law enforcement recognizing that witnesses are also victims, they can address that trauma and perhaps get some more effective statements,” said Kelly Nicholson, a victim advocate in Dakota County.