Written by Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Anderson.
There’s been a report of an active shooter. Coast Guard Tactical Law Enforcement Team South members are called to respond. They maneuver down a hallway, lined with bright orange lockers. Pivoting, scanning and clearing columns and doorways, they stalk the shooter. Classrooms and a gym pass by as they search the scenario area at the Miami-Dade Police Department Training Center during Law Enforcement Active Shooter Emergency Response, or LASER, training.
“Boom, Boom,” reverberates down the hallways as a shotgun is fired in rapid succession. The faster the team engages the shooter, the more lives can be saved. They accelerate, zeroing in on the sound of the gunfire.
As they round a corner, the target comes into view. He raises his pistol to fire on the TACLET members. In response, they sight in and fire, neutralizing the shooter and preventing him from harming anyone.
“An active shooter response is faster and more aggressive than our counter-drug interdictions,” said Lt. Chris Guy, TACLET South’s training officer.
“When we conduct a drug interdiction, everyone aboard is a smuggler; we’re able to be more methodical. During an active shooter incident, the faster you engage a suspect, the more lives you protect. It’s effective training for our teams that deploy to the Gulf of Aden, rapidly engaging pirates before they have the chance to seize control of a vessel or become an active shooter is key to protecting mariners before they become victims.”
The Gulf of Aden is an important part of the Suez Canal shipping route between the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean. More than 21,000 vessels carrying 11 percent of the world’s seaborne petroleum and commercial goods pass though this body of water annually; stopping pirates saves lives and protects this free flow of energy and commerce.
Through the first nine months of the current fiscal year, TACLET South detained 20 suspected pirates. During counter drug operations, they also interdicted more than 15 tons of cocaine with a wholesale value of more than $390 million.
During LASER training, a TACLET South law enforcement detachment worked with Miami Police Department officers. The class, sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Center for Domestic Preparedness, trains law enforcement officers to respond to active shooter events like the recent Colorado movie theater shooting, Columbine, Virginia Tech and Mumbai shootings.
During the training, participants were taught about historical active shooters and tactics and techniques and procedures for dealing with these perpetrators. They then conducted assaults and room clearings with shooter and victim role players.
“Preparing for an active shooter allows for an aggressive, dynamic and immediate response,” said Miami police officer Luis Gonzalez. “That’s this course in a nutshell. We give participants the knowledge, skills and abilities to rapidly deploy and neutralize violent offenders during active shooter incidents.”
For several years, Miami police officers have trained to respond to an active shooter. The training is available to Miami’s partner law enforcement agencies, including the Coast Guard.
“The LASER course definitely adds to the capabilities we bring to the maritime domain,” Guy said. “Increasing our knowledge base and tactical proficiency is an important part of ensuring we’re always evolving and able to continue stopping drug smugglers and pirates.”