Arlington police to resume training

By Tanya Eiserer
Monday, June 18, 2001

Copyright 2001 Star-Telegram, Inc.

The Police Department has set a tentative date of July 2 to resume active shooter training, which had been indefinitely suspended after the death of Cpl. Joey Cushman.

"It's more of a goal than anything else right now," Police Chief Theron Bowman said Sunday.

Cushman was fatally shot June 7 during a training exercise at Ousley Junior High School. Cushman, one of four instructors, was killed when he volunteered to demonstrate how a plastic safety helmet would deflect a fake bullet. Another instructor, Blane Shaw, thought he was firing a fake bullet but fired real ammunition.

The Tarrant County Medical Examiner's Office has ruled Cushman's death an accident. Shaw remains on paid administrative leave, pending the outcome of internal and criminal investigations.

Police officials said the training will resume only after all the necessary safety precautions have been taken.

"We'll have to make sure the police officers are aware of the changes and that we can reassure them that the training is safe," Bowman said.

Last week, all Arlington police officers received an e-mail stating that the training would be restarted.

"Logistics permitting, the department will resume active shooter training on Monday, July 2," the e-mail read, according to officers who received it. "Training will resume, however, only after an exhaustive review and revision of all safety protocols."

Bowman said he plans to meet with a psychologist and other personnel to ensure the department is sensitive to the emotional needs of its officers.

He said he also plans to meet with Arlington Police Association officials next week to discuss concerns by some officers that the training is being too hastily resumed.

"For some people, resuming the training at any point in the future might be too soon," Bowman said, "but we really have to understand that the training is designed to save lives, and we have to move forward."

When contacted Sunday, a police association official said several officers have approached him with concerns.

"There's concerns by members that it's possibly too soon," association President Randle Meadows said. "Some are concerned over the safety issues involved in the training."

Meadows said he has been pleased with the response of the department's command staff.

"We've had an excellent rapport over this entire situation with the command staff," he said. "The administration is willing to dialogue with us about the concerns that the officers have."

Many police departments began using the active shooting training after the Columbine High School shooting in Colorado two years ago. It teaches officers to immediately approach and overcome a shooter rather than clear the building or assist victims first.

"We believe that the training itself is very, very valuable and that it's designed to save the lives of many children," Bowman said. "It's important that we resume it as soon as we can safely do so."

When Cushman died, the training had been going on for about two weeks. The training was scheduled for the entire summer.

Charlene Robertson, an Arlington school district spokeswoman, said the entire community will benefit from the training.

"It's extremely vital," Robertson said. "They are practicing reactions to situations that could happen and have happened in other schools. We are pleased that they are going to resume it, but their timing is up to them."

Meadows said several officers who went through the training before it was suspended said "that it's the greatest training that they've ever had."

Meadows said he has volunteered to be in the first class when it resumes.

"I want to be involved in the process of this training and to see the safety precautions that have been put into place before officers are put back into the training," he said.