HIALEAH, Fla. – Two months after the Uvalde school shooting, officials with the Miami-Dade County Public School District hoped to learn from previous incidents Wednesday, holding an active shooter drill at Hialeah Senior High School.
“I want anyone who’s thinking of causing damage to any of our schools, to our kids, I want them to know exactly the level of force that we’re bringing to them,” Miami-Dade Schools Police Chief Edwin Lopez said.
Police said they went through great lengths to make the drill as realistic as possible. The drill began with a mock shooter firing blanks as school staff assessed the situation before officers arrived.
“Our goal is to rattle the officers as much as possible, to present a realistic approach, and that involves students screaming, that involves fire alarms going off,” Lopez said.
In the drill, the “shooter” was eventually found in an upstairs classroom before being neutralized by responding officers.
At that point, the search for survivors and a possible second “shooter” began, with both police and paramedics canvassing the campus, room by room.
“We want to challenge us as much as possible,” Lopez said. “So we pick complex high schools, older high schools that have been renovated, with challenging classrooms.”
The training used real students as actors pretending to be shooting victims. Some rushed to a downstairs bathroom, where they were triaged by paramedics before being rushed into a waiting ambulance.
Other students were made to come out with their hands up.
After giving the all clear, officers held a post-drill briefing to assess their response.
Overall, officials called the training a success, saying they hope it will never have to be used in real life.
“What we’ve seen in the last couple of these instances, unfortunately, is the hesitation,” Hialeah Mayor Esteban Bovo said. “Waiting for someone to take control of the command structure for law enforcement, and I’m satisfied with what I heard and how they addressed it here.”
More than 100 law enforcement officers took part in Wednesday’s drill.