OMAHA, Neb. — Law enforcement officials in eastern Nebraska say they’re better armed and trained nearly a decade after a deadly mall shooting.

Omaha Police Sgt. Jeff Baker told the Omaha World-Herald that the department’s tactics are now focused on getting officers to the active shooter as fast as possible.

A 19-year-old killed eight people and himself at the Von Maur department store in December 2007.

A review of the response to the shooting found that the Douglas County 911 center had trouble dealing with the massive volume of information that was coming in about the shooting. Officers didn’t receive important information quickly enough, which delayed their response.

“We were honest,” said Officer Dave Staskiewicz, who helped write the review. “Some things went good, some went bad, and this is what we can learn from it.”

In large events, the main dispatcher will now receive assistance from others to make sure important information isn’t overlooked, 911 officials said. Additional police radio channels have also been created for use during a major event.

All of the police department’s officers have participated in active killer training since 2007.

“Our active shooter training has gotten exponentially better in the 10 years since,” Baker said. “We serve no one well if we’re ill-equipped, under-trained and don’t have the right mindset to deal with these monstrous events when they happen.”

Fire officials are also better trained to work with police in order to quickly aid victims. Paramedics now have ballistic helmets and vests to better protect them while aiding wounded people. Police will escort paramedics into areas where gunfire has stopped but where the scene may not be completely secure.

“In terms of training, tactics, equipment and mindset, our agency is a lot better prepared to go into something like that again,” Staskiewicz said. “Hopefully we never have to.”


Information from: Omaha World-Herald, http://www.omaha.com

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