Special Reports

Newer police strategy employed at Foss

As Tacoma police responded to Foss High School on Wednesday, they launched their “active shooter” plan.

It calls for teams of officers to move systematically through a location where they believe a gunman still lurks after a shooting.

Wednesday, three teams of officers moved through and cleared the high school. They did not find the gunman; a suspect was taken into custody later outside the school.

The department first trained its officers and supervisors on the active shooter response plan in 2004. Its previous procedure called for the first-responding officers to “contain” the gunman until the more heavily armed Special Weapons and Tactics team arrived and dealt with the problem. The new training builds trust among the officers, teaches them tactical formations and uses maneuvers usually reserved for the SWAT team.

The approach gained popularity throughout the country after the 1999 Columbine school massacre in Littleton, Colo., the worst school shooting in U.S. history. Twelve students and a teacher died when classmates Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold set off homemade bombs and fired randomly inside the school before they shot and killed themselves.

Tacoma police also used its active shooter training last year when a gunman fired several shots at the Tacoma Mall. The gunman was found and arrested in one of the stores.

The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department and the King County Sheriff’s Office also have trained their deputies in how to respond to an active shooter situation.

Stacey Mulick, The News Tribune