By SAMANTHA MCDONNELL
OBSERVER Staff Writer
SOUTH DAYTON - "Do you have any last words," Kris Rhebergen asked student Jacob Wilcox.
OBSERVER?Photos by Samantha McDonnell
Top: A state trooper enters the PVCS classroom where the gunman was located in Wednesday’s drill.
Above: Colton Starks plays the role of a shooting victim.
Police officers then barged into the classroom and ordered Rhebergen to drop his prop gun. This scenario was part of an active shooter drill hosted by the Pine Valley School District.
The drill was conducted Wednesday by New York State Police and the Chautauqua County Sheriff's Department. Police departments throughout Chautauqua County, as well as the Cattaraugus County Sheriff's Department, were invited to participate in the drill.
"We're on the county line," State Police Lieutenant Eugene Staniszewski said.
If an event were to ever occur, police departments from both counties and various towns would likely respond, Staniszewski said. The drill provided an opportunity for police departments from both Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties to come together and train.
"A full-scale emergency drill is the most effective and efficient way to prepare for such a dynamic situation. We will be able to test our capabilities in a controlled environment, but in one that provides a realistic setting," State Police Captain Steven Graap said.
The objective is to locate and neutralize any threat, according to Chautauqua County Sheriff Lieutenant David Bentley.
"Get in and get active," Bentley said.
Erie Chautauqua-Catt-araugus 2 BOCES' criminal justice class member Rhe-bergen acted as the gunman for the drill. He was in a classroom with four other students acting as hostages.
All police officers involved in Wednesday's exercise were stripped of all weapons before entering the scenario to avoid compromising the safety of anyone involved in the exercise.
Since 1999, the year Columbine took place, first responders' mentality has been to actively seek out a gunman until the gunman is found. Prior to then, the mentality was to quarantine the shooter into one location and wait.
In 2000, the State Police started placing officers in school districts because of a federal grant. The program continued until 2010 when the program was cut because of budgeting restraints.
Police from Jamestown, Lakewood, Westfield, Silver Creek and the SUNY Fredonia police departments took part in the exercise.