Police, Fire conduct ‘shooter’ drill at Berkeley school

Police and fire drill, April 2, 2013. Photo: Emilie Raguso

First responders from the Berkeley Police and Fire departments found one shooting “victim” outside the Berkeley Adult School on San Pablo Avenue. All photos: Emilie Raguso

Authorities converged on a North Berkeley school campus Tuesday morning to practice how to respond to a scenario involving injured and deceased victims, as well as a barricaded gunman.

Victims, played by volunteers, wore stage make-up to mimic injuries. Police and fire teams, who began responding to the “call” around 9 a.m., had to come up with a safe strategy to care for the injured, who were scattered throughout the school, and locate the hidden shooter. First responders included several police officers, who found an injured “victim” in the grass outside the school; as they communicated suspect information and other details from the victim back to dispatchers, more and more crews arrived.

The operation culminated around 11 a.m. when a police team found and “killed” a volunteer playing the role of the shooter. Photos from the drill, by Emilie Raguso, appear here.


A Berkeley Police tactical team leader gives instructions to officers about the upcoming operation

Berkeley Police Department tactical team members don equipment and move toward the school to make entry

Berkeley firefighters discuss their response plan


A Berkeley Police sniper takes cover behind a Berkeley Fire engine


The Berkeley Police sniper takes his position on the ladder of a Berkeley Fire truck; a firefighter joins him


Berkeley Fire crew members strategize on the ground as a police sniper climbs the ladder


University of California Police officers check the perimeter, on Virginia Street, as they prepare to make entry into the Adult School


A University of California Police team gets ready to enter the school to look for the “shooter” in Tuesday morning’s exercise


Police officers from Berkeley and the University of California check classrooms to search for “victims” and the “shooter”


Berkeley Police officers escort Berkeley firefighters inside the school to care for shooting “victims”


Berkeley Police tactical teams search the building to find the “shooter”


Police found the “shooter” in a classroom with hostages. He was “killed” during the incident. (Drill volunteers wore stage make-up to show injuries.)


A Berkeley Police tactical team member discusses the operation with another officer

The exercise, at the Berkeley Adult School at 1701 San Pablo Ave., was also a chance for the Berkeley Police and Fire departments to practice using a new radio system that allows them to communicate with each other and other agencies more efficiently. Officers from the University of California Police Department also participated.

Berkeley Interim Deputy Fire Chief Avery Webb said it was the first drill done on such a large scale between the agencies. Webb said goals included setting up a “unified command” structure, and deploying teams including both police officers and firefighters, to work on communication and best practices.

Berkeley Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats agreed: “It gives us an opportunity to work together and figure out the best way to handle a scenario, and work out, for the future, what would be the best protocol.”

Exercises are planned to continue at the Adult School through Friday, April 5, at 9 p.m. Said police, “The neighborhoods surrounding the Berkeley Adult School can expect to see police and fire vehicles and associated crews in the area throughout the week. People should also expect to see members of our Barricaded Subject Hostage Negotiation Team, as well as role-players made up to look like causalities. Occasionally fake smoke may be visible as well as water from fire hoses.”

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  • guest

    Why the Army-style camo?

  • QuestionItAll

    Freeking sick! Militarized police, really? When you live in a Police State the Police always have to show who’s boss!

  • Bill N

    We’re as much a police state and Obama is a socialist.

  • anonymous

    Speaking as someone who has actually lived in a police state your comment manages to be offensive, ignorant, and funny all at the same time. Congratulations!

  • The_Sharkey

    Which force would you rather have responding to a gunman holding hostages at a school, a tactical team with military training or a suburban police force whose training mostly involves writing traffic tickets?

    I don’t understand why they have camo (doesn’t seem appropriate for anything they’d be doing) but other than that this doesn’t seem like a show of power so much as training to prevent something like Sandy Hook from happening in Berkeley.

  • guest

    More exciting that way: the kids can imagine they’re in Halo.
    that way it’s less traumatizing if someone gets killed.

  • 2ndGenBerkeleyan

    The real questions is this. With all of the truly horrific/sickening mass school shootings you can think of, how many of the shooters were actually successfully taken out by police (militarized or otherwise) and how many ended up killing themselves after perpertrating a massacre?
    By the time BPD fully assembles its SWAT force, gets all of the gear on, makes a tactical plan to move into the shooters space, how much time will have already transpired with the shooter firing at will? How many rounds will s/he have gotten off already? How many will be dead or wounded?
    I am sorry, but this is more theater than a really realistic exercise…

  • guest

    Berkeleyside, were BPD, BFD, and UCPD the only agencies to participate? Were government officials from any other institution involved? Were any other members of the press present? Was Berkeleyside invited to the event? Was any other news agency invited?

    What we see in the pictures has behind it a tremendous amount of taxpayer dollars. Were these departments similarly armed and outfitted ten years ago? Had they received the kinds of federally assisted training that preceded this exercise? (I think not. This is all post-DHS innovation.)

    Keep that enormous taxpayer expense in mind while you think about cost-benefit trade-offs between that kind of spending versus spending directed towards reducing robbery, burglary, and sexual assault. Keep it in mind as you contemplate regional school district budgets and the social safety net.

    The active shooter scenario used in this exercise is one that would seem to be extremely statistically unlikely. At the same time, two of these departments tried to buy an armored assault vehicle and now appear interested in surveillance drones. At the same time BPD and other regional departments are participating in historically unprecedented ways with federal surveillance programs. In short, the people who have begun describing this as an emerging police state are at the very least not entirely out to lunch.

  • guest

    bgal4 in 3…2…1…

  • citizen

    I thought Firemen assisted and Police made things safe – when the Police sniper uses the fire engine ladder that makes Firemen a target.

  • guest

    That’s not Camo! It’s Berkeley’s custom manufactured “All Races Rainbow” print, with “Green for the Earth” accents. Look closely, you’ll see all skin colors equally represented.

  • guest

    It’s nice to know we’ve got this capability. Looters (after the quake) take note.

  • guest


    In the photo captioned “A University of California Police team gets ready to enter the school to look for the “shooter” in Tuesday morning’s exercise” two distinct style of arm patches are visible.

    The person closest to the “no smoking” sign has a patch that looks like a UCPD logo.

    The two other clearly visible patches do not look like either UCPD or BPD.

    Who are those people?

    Also: how much was paid out in wages for this exercise? Was any of it overtime? Who had oversight? Who monitored and evaluated the results? How much was paid to volunteers? How were volunteers recruited? Who did the make-up and how much did that cost?

  • guest

    No regional agency appears to use the “reverse flag” patch but the military does. This suggests that there was an unreported federal participation in the exercise.

  • bgal4


  • ClearEyesFullHeart

    Dear Berkeley residents who claim to live in a police state: Make that claim again when something happens to you and you reach for your phone to call 911.

  • guest

    >complain about lack of response to Sandy Hook shooting
    >complain when Police try to train for Sandy Hook type situation

    You ain’t never gonna be pleased.

  • Guest

    I join the other commenters in criticizing the BPD for expending resources to train its officers in best tactics and inter-agency cooperation. How DARE they practice for an active shooter on a school campus, where do they think they are — a college town, with many K-12 schools? The nerve of them! As we have complained about in the past, BPD’s abhorrent lack of training causes innumerable problems. And now they expect the taxpayer to pick up the tab to train them, that’s ironic! How do they expect us to gin-up outrage to preserve Copwatch and the P&J Commission if they do their jobs WELL? This injustice cannot stand.

  • Guest

    The shooter will keep shooting until the police show up, and then the shooter commits suicide. I really don’t understand your point. The police are getting important training for this kind of scenario and possible other scenarios, with the idea of saving innocent lives.

  • Guest

    Because that’s what they have. Would you have preferred khakis and polo shirts?

  • guest

    “that’s what they have”
    you mean policemen don’t have police uniforms anymore?
    try again.

  • Guest

    Ummm–to distinguish themselves from the UCPD? Maybe the editors could ask Jennifer Coats.

  • guest

    The editors should have a lot more questions for BPD than this article answers.

  • Shawn

    Instead of the criticism, why not get involved to save lives and/or lessen the suffering of victims during senseless situations like Sandy Hook? The volunteers, I being one, were not paid. Most, along with several EMT students, were members of CERT, Berkeley’s Community Emergency Response Team. If you want to get involved in the next citywide disaster drill, go to http://www.cityofberkeley.info/quake to register or better yet, become a CERT member. The training is free through the Berkeley Fire Dept. Getting our neighborhoods, schools, seniors, and folks with disabilities organized and prepared for any disaster be it, man made or natural, is just common sense. P.S. BFD, EMTs, paramedics, BPD, and others, you did a great job on Tuesday’s drill and as a citizen, I thank you.

  • guest

    Doug Oakley seems to have got the start on the story a few months back. BUSD hired a consulting company named “edu-safe” to work on active shooter preparedness. Who exactly those guys are, how much money from whom is going into this show, from what budgets and to whom, who the guys with the mystery arm-patches are, who is in charge of running the exercise and evaluating the results, and what the costs are in local staff and resource costs are open questions.

    The other company Oakley reported on, “Dimensions Unlimited” (not the cabinet maker, the other one) seems to also have some contract with Alameda Sheriff’s office. These two firms seem to have a lot of the local market cornered. Bet they do alright for themselves with this arrangement.

  • Btownbro

    guest, are you a cyberstalker? or just a pretentious jerk?

  • PragmaticProgressive

    are those mutually exclusive?

  • PragmaticProgressive

    Thanks for this. Words like “police state” and “fascist” get used so often in this town that they’ve ceased to have meaning.

  • John Seal

    Appalling, disgusting, terrifying…choose an adjective. These are the paramilitaries who’ll be enforcing martial law on our streets, and summarily executing citizens.

  • guest

    Shawn, I Thank You, my Wife and Kids Thank You, and all who participated.

  • Biker 94703

    The adjective I choose is “paranoid”. You should be worrying about the Zombie Apocalypse; it is closer than you think!

  • BerkeleyResident

    Did you really ask how much was PAID to VOLUNTEERS?

  • BerkeleyResident

    Sounds like you should stop complaining and pick up a job with berkeleyside

  • another Guest

    Angry, ignorant people who sit in front of their computer and whine while others are out there trying to do whatever they can to prevent the next tragedy. Please, if you care, get involved, stop complaining.

  • guest

    A minor irony of (extreme) left-wing ideology… Assuming the paramilitaries are “summarily executing citizens” in the streets of Berkeley, only a heavily armed citizenry, organized as a “well regulated militia” would be capably of fighting back against the impending “fascist tyranny”…

  • guest

    Why it’s a Holy Troller!

    Speaking the truth (as bgal4 does) about about Berkeley’s corrupt, ludicrously fat, sacred cows whose bullshit stinks up the town, brings out the sniping cowards in the congregation.

  • bgal4

    Oikos University. Who was executing Who? You know the incident in which OPD used one of those dreaded military style armored vehicle to move students out of the area to safety.

    One of our old friends Tony Valerio, was one of the first paramedic to enter a chaotic shooting scene at 101 California. Paramedics were searching for victims while the shooter was actively killing. First responders had no idea how many gunmen there were.

    Coordination and training between the various agencies and training is critical if the goal is to SAVE innocent lives.

  • Guest15

    Just remember way back when to the Henry’s bar shooting for all those of you who were around then. This training is needed and well worth the time.

  • Josh

    How about looking for the reason or reasons why this kind of ultra-insane thing seems to be happening more often (looking at you, prescription drugs) rather than sit back and let the Feds dictate down all the way to Berzerkeley, for pete’s sake, that a military police armed to the teeth stalking the halls of schools looking for a crazed killer is a thing we should just get used to?

  • Berkeleyborn123

    Dear Berkeley PD, UC PD, and BFD. Thank you for doing this training. In the unlikely event that you are called to action to deal with a shooter killing innocent people-be it a home, school, or business, I’d much rather have you ready with the trainings and weapons needed to handle the situation. There are commenters on this page who still think Berkeley is some hippie version of Mayberry, but I know the types of folks you deal with, late at night when those same commenters are asleep. There is no reason that the terrible mass shootings we’ve seen in recent history cannot happen in Berkeley. And yes, if you remember Henry’s, the PBD’s ability to distract, then shoot the suspect dead saved many lives….

  • guest

    Berkeleyborn, of course training is important.

    Given limited budgets, the choices of training and equipment involve cost-benefit trade-offs. Those trade-offs should be made in the public interest which requires transparency and public scrutiny.

    When the public is inattentive to those trade-offs, out of ignorance, fear, or any reason, the decisions can be driven by strange forces. DHS influences agencies with grants and other incentives. (The same DHS that brought us the “security theater” of the TSA.) A host of obscure consultants and small companies sell their services and wares with little transparency or review.

    All this post-9/11, post-mass-casualty-shooting-panic ramping up of “security” is a big-money industry, feeding off the public dime. It is tied up with odd new entanglements between local, state, federal law enforcement, and military agencies. These kinds of exercises can be very fun for the rank and file and come with incentives like overtime pay or professional development credits.

    At no point in any of this do we get a really convincing public account of how this particular new regime of “preparedness” actually, objectively makes us any safer. And I’m sorry to bring up a sad and sore topic but to me the events the night of Peter Cukor’s death suggests this new level of “security” might be actively harmful to public safety.

    You say you remember Henry’s, a hostage situation that was ultimately resolved using 1970s era preparation and training.

    Are you old enough to remember phalanxes of bayonets sealing off Berkeley streets, air-drops of tear gas on corralled protesters, residents homes shot up with law enforcement and National Guard bullets, and the Alameda County Sherriff’s office here on a kind of mutual aid deal killing one unarmed man and blinding another? All in no small part thanks to the trouble stirred up by Hoover’s secret police?

    I don’t think you’ll find many of the skeptics who see Berkeley as “some hippie version of Mayberry”, just plenty of people who aren’t so sure these agencies can always be trusted to do the right thing, especially with so much money and power at stake.

  • QuestionItAll

    You really are asleep, in denial or a troll!

  • QuestionItAll

    See my above comment – it applies to you as well!

  • QuestionItAll

    Stay asleep my elitist friend!

  • QuestionItAll

    The mere idea that this is ok on any level shows how removed from reality you are! That you can’t see how obvious a ploy this is to acclimate you to an omnipresent militarized police force… I’m more troubled that the removed-from-reality progs have lost any capability at critically thinking through any of this theater, especially since the scam artist aka Barry Obama took over the US!