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Manteca Police prepare for unthinkable
Manteca Police come up on one of the victims of Thursday’s active shooter training exercise.

An active shooter on campus is a worse-case scenario that the Manteca Police Department prays will never happen.

For that, local police partnered with the Manteca Unified School District for Thursday’s Critical Incident Training exercises at BE.Tech Charter High.

“It’s unfortunate that we have to do this type of training,” said Joe Ahuna, who is the department’s public information officer. “But these are the times in which we live in – we have to be prepared to respond and stop the threat.”

According to Benjamin Cromwell – he’s the second-year instructor of the Career Technical Education’s Administration of Justice classes – Sgt. Josh Sweeten came up with the idea of using the BE.Tech campus to conduct various exercises involving students in his classes as role players.

Amanda Dutra was one of the “shooting victims.” A sophomore in the CTE First Responders class, she looked the part with a severe wound to her neck.

“We used the fake (Halloween) wound,” said Dutra, crediting classmate Tobi Gilmer for applying the makeup.

A combined 56 students from Cromwell’s Administration of Justice and James Ward and Angela Ott’s First Responders classes were involved in the morning exercises.

They were among the wounded that police encountered along faux streets of BE.Tech town during the two scenarios.

Actual police dispatchers, using two-way radios, provided further realism with the APBs.

Ahuna noted that the initial calls from dispatchers are that of possible firecrackers followed by possible shots fired in the area.

“It’s difficult to determine actual (the sound of) gun fire for most people,” he said.

The threat then becomes something real based on the high volume of 9-1-1 calls, Ahuna added.

Police file into the campus scene in formation.

“If this was an actual shooting, we would have outside agencies such as CHP, San Joaquin County Sheriffs, Ripon and Escalon police assisting us,” Ahuna said.

The first scenario was a run-through, with dispatchers providing information on the shooter in “heavy dark clothing and (wearing) a mask.”

The second scenario was more of a scramble. Police had little information to go on while scurrying the campus for leads.

“It was a disgruntled parent, a father, who was armed and upset,” Ahuna said.

For students, the “police training in progress” exercises provided a first-hand glance at a career pathway to law enforcement, said Cromwell, who spent 10 years with the Stockton Police Department and five with Manteca police.

They were also involved in various polices exercises during the week.

Police were armed with airsoft guns for the training, using BE.Tech town along with some of the classrooms and parts of the school farm in search of the active shooter.

“We have good relations with MUSD,” Ahuna said. “We work very well together.”