BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- Customs and Border Protection Officers with Buffalo’s field office underwent specialized training at an area school to prepare for a worst-case scenario; an active shooter.
The officers encountered everything from a desperate hostage to a wounded law enforcement officer, or a shooter just around the corner.
Using simulated shots and actors to portray real-life scenarios, the officers didn’t know what they’d encounter in any given room.
That’s the point, according to Chief CBP Officer Aaron Bowker.
The three day training is called ALERT: Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training. The FBI developed it in 2013.
Chief Bowker says most law enforcement agencies use it.
“Making sure that our personnel are trained the same way law enforcement personnel are trained across the country so that if there is a situation they have to respond to, they’ve received the proper training and can assist when necessary,” Bowker told us.
This standard training could come in handy if CBP officers encountered an emergency in the field, or were needed as backup by area police departments.
Given how many ports there are in Buffalo, this training is especially important.
“Take the Peace Bridge for example, we’re backed up right to a neighborhood in the west side,” said Chief Bowker.
So far, 140 personnel have completed this training.
The men and women of CBP learn awareness and team formations. Most importantly, they learn how to evaluate unknown places.
“Everybody’s used to dealing with what we have at the bridges. They’ve been working there for years, they know what the rooms look like, but imagine a situation when you don’t know what the rooms look like, so how do you properly deal with that,” said Chief Bowker.
Immediately after a scenario, officers train for something else; they go over their tactics and decisions with their instructors.
Verbalizing why something was done immediately afterwards, Bowker says, teaches officers to think critically, especially in the most tense of situations.