A police training exercise held at Mae Hensley Junior High School Saturday was designed to help Ceres police respond more quickly and effectively to the possible future scenario of a gunman running loose on a school campus.
The active shooter training ran from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and involved about half of the department's 55 sworn officers. The other half will be receiving a similar training on Oct. 5.
Ceres Police Department Lt. Brent Smith said the department is trying to work on a quicker response in the event that someone ever walks on a campus armed and willing to commit a mass murder such as the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Massachusetts in December or the Washington, D.C. naval yard shooting on Monday.
"We are going in with a different mindset to go in and pin him down and take him out as soon as possible," said Smith. "The first person there goes straight in to stop the person from injuring people."
He noted like many departments today, Ceres police are more heavily armed than in years past. All Ceres police officers are issued their own AR 15 rifle which can penetrate body armor.
"Some departments are not quite like that."
Smith said the two-exercise event also trained to better coordinate how fire and ambulance personnel can get to victims for faster triage.
"We tried to make Saturday as realistic looking as possible," said Lt. Brent Smith. "We hired a makeup crew to do makeup."
Saturday afternoon was spent on practicing safe entries into rooms.
The city funded the event, including $400 for makeup artistry and food for the personnel who were trained.
Smith gave kudos to the Ceres Unified School District who assisted in using the school campus.