Mammoth Lakes Police Department’s (MLPD) Sergeant Joe Vetter and School Resource Officer Daniel Hansen presented an update on school-shooter protocol at Mammoth’s Town Council meeting on Wednesday.
Hansen explained that, since Columbine, police departments around the country have adjusted their protocol towards mass shootings; instead of surrounding the premise of a building in full SWAT, they now go in immediately, no matter how many officers are there, and take out the shooter as quickly as possible before attending to any injuries.
“As everyone is aware, being in a rural setting doesn’t allow you the luxury of 50 cops being there in seconds, so we have all been stepping up and training together,” said Vetter. “There have been reports that the police officers involved in the Uvalde school shooting waited way too long before entering the building. I can guarantee you that the 14 men and women of this police department, if an incident like [Uvalde] happened in Mammoth, all 14 people would be charging into the school – even if they were the only one on scene. That’s what’s in our hearts and minds,” he said.
Hansen has been making daily rounds in each of the Mammoth schools since the Uvalde school shooting, including conducting 26 random walk-throughs around campuses in town since the incident. “We’ve chosen to up our presence since the shooting, in case of any kind of copy-cat incident, and you can see the relief in teachers’ faces,” explained Hansen.
The Department hopes to obtain mass trauma kits; they have some in their patrol vehicles that can treat 1-2 people, but would like kits that have enough supplies to treat 50 people at a time.
The Department has scheduled a mass-shooter training for August, which will involve the Fire Department, parademics, Mammoth Hospital and the entire school population. “We need to make sure that the hospital is equipped to train mass casualties,” he added.
Concerns have been brought up about certain doors being left open, specifically at Mammoth Elementary School. “I don’t want to put it lightly, but anyone can walk into any of these campuses. They’re open campuses,” explained Hansen. Despite this, Mammoth schools plan to keep doors closed and locked whenever possible, add more security cameras to their campuses, and install a buzzer-system at the elementary school that only allows entry through one checkpoint.
Councilman Bill Sauser asked MLPD what they are doing to monitor social media, in light of the recent, violent TikTok #OrbeezChallenge in the Mammoth community, which involved guns.
“We’re doing our best to [monitor social media]. I try to monitor as much as I can. But a lot of kids have spam accounts and are blocked, and you can’t see what’s going on on their personal page … We become aware of certain ‘challenges’, but it’s hard to actually see what people are individually posting. It’s progressively getting worse, too … I read that the Uvalde district had a system in place that scanned any threats,” said Hansen.
MLPD is also looking for volunteers for mass-shooter response training. Volunteers urged to contact Hansen at 760-965-3703.