Columbine Shaping Police Training Patrol Officers Told to Act Faster

Article excerpt

LITTLETON, Colo. -- Despite lawsuits claiming that faster SWAT team action could have saved lives at Columbine High School, experts say the specially trained officers won't change their slow, methodical approach.

What will change is the training for beat patrol officers, who are being taught to act faster to control dangerous situations until the SWAT teams arrive.

"There are some times when you need to rush into things," said David Klinger, who is conducting a federally funded study of SWAT operations.

In the past, law enforcement leaders have been reluctant to send ordinary patrolmen into tense situations because they have been accused of being trigger happy, said Klinger, a criminologist at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

More than a dozen lawsuits have been filed by the families of the survivors and the 13 people killed after student gunmen Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris opened fire at Columbine a year ago. Both gunmen committed suicide during the attack.

The lawsuits accuse sheriff's deputies of acting too slowly; one claims teacher Dave Sanders was left to bleed to death for more than three hours while police waited to enter the school.

"What a bunch of cowards. They had guns, they had vests, they had helmets, they should be prepared to go out and they might get shot. These were 17- and 18-year-old kids in there," said Connie Michalik, whose son, Richard, was paralyzed in the attack. …


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