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Police Begin Active Shooter Drills At Everett Mall

Stephan Brashear
Deadly shootings like the one in September at Cascade Mall in Burlington have prompted local police departments to do more hands-on training.

Everett police are running  monthly active shooter drills this year in a vacant store at Everett Mall.

The training sessions have been in the works for a long time. But events like thedeadly September shootingat Cascade Mall in Burlington serve as a reminder that police need hands-on training. 

In that shooting, five people were killed after a man with a rifle opened fire in a department store at the mall.

"Unfortunately, these situations are happening," Everett police spokesman Aaron Snell said. "We want to put our officers in a stressful environment that is as near [to the] real world as we can get."

During the drills, actors play suspects and victims while officers and other emergency personnel try to coordinate their response. Officers have to search the space and determine how to deal with the "shooter" while keeping the victims safe.

Everett police used to run drills out of an old school district building. But it was getting ready to be sold, and officers got to know it too well.

"Where now, we're walking into a completely unfamiliar environment," Snell said. "We're having to repeat and work on and continue to train on things that [are] supposed to be second nature to us." 

The space at Everett Mall between a movie theater and a gym is larger than the old building and mostly out of the way from the mall's main drag, Snell said.

The police and fire departments ran their first drills at the new location on Monday and Tuesday. Shoppers might see more police around during the sessions, but the area is roped off. 

A Seattle native and former KNKX intern, Simone Alicea spent four years as a producer and reporter at KNKX. She earned her Bachelor's of Journalism from Northwestern University and covered breaking news for the Chicago Sun-Times. During her undergraduate career, she spent time in Cape Town, South Africa, covering metro news for the Cape Times.