XENIA — The city of Xenia isn’t exactly a prime area for a major terrorist attack according to police Chief Randy Person, but in case of any active shooter situation, local officers are prepared.
“We have a very low profile when it comes to that,” Person said of a terrorist attack.
But homegrown violent extremists can be anywhere and if a situation similar to what occurred in San Bernardino, Calif., last week happens here, Xenia will be ready to react.
“The reality is we do a lot of preparation for those types of incidents,” Person said.
Many of the tactics used in said preparation originated in Greene County as officers from Xenia and Fairborn helped develop the state’s active shooter protocol. That’s useful cross-training, according to Person.
“In case of an incident like that, multiple officers can respond from multiple departments and we’re on the same page,” he said.
Departments throughout the county and state can also communicate using the Multi-Agency Radio Communication System (MARCS), which gives law enforcement officials instantaneous communication throughout the state, something that could have helped officers in the San Bernadino incident.
“One of the problems they had … is that couple hit that one location and they went mobile,” Person said. “We’ve taken steps to resolve that here.”
After a situation is called in, nearby officers would respond first and would receive mutual aid from other agencies as they arrive on the scene.
The Xenia Police Division and the Greene County Sheriff’s Office also staff a SWAT team that could respond to unusual scenarios, like hostage situations, barricaded subjects and other high-risk incidents.
According to Greene County Sheriff Gene Fischer, local law enforcement officers regularly complete Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate (ALICE) active shooter training for officials at local school systems and have expanded to train some private businesses as well. Through ALICE, trainees learn how to respond to active shooters based on the particular situation and decide to evacuate or lock-down as the situation warrants.
A general shift in active shooter strategy has also helped law enforcement agencies better ready themselves. When there was a shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999, 45 minutes elapsed before responders were ready to enter the school, Person said.
A “quad” system was utilized, where the first to arrive would wait for three others, and they would go in together.
“That took too long,” Person said.
Now the first officer on the scene has the authority to go in and hunt down the shooter.
“That’s a change in our tactics and our mentality,” Person said. “That’s probably made us better prepared for what we have now.”
So where do these extremists Person mentioned come from? He blames social media.
“It’s an online presence,” Person said. “These extremists are being recruited on social media. They become immersed in this online presence and through that they can radicalize.”
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.