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Active assailant training held at the Alexandria Area High School W/VIDEOS

Many entities were involved, including the Alexandria Police Department, Douglas County Sheriff's Office, Alexandria Public Schools, Alexandria Fire Department, North Memorial Ambulance, City of Alexandria and Douglas County.

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Deputies with the Douglas County Sheriff's Office and officers with the Alexandria Police Department walk through the halls of the Alexandria Area High School looking for an active shooter during training that took place Thursday, Aug. 11, 2022.
Celeste Edenloff / Alexandria Echo Press
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ALEXANDRIA — As the start of another school year quickly approaches, school safety is top of mind for not only school districts, but many other entities, including the Alexandria Police Department.

Last Tuesday and Thursday, Aug. 9 and Aug. 11, the Alexandria Police Department hosted an “active assailant training” facilitated by Alexandria Police Sgt. Tony Kuhnau.

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During an active assailant training at the Alexandria Area High School, Cody Notch with the Douglas County Sheriff's Office, left, walks next to Nathan Larson with the Alexandria Police Department, as they enter a classroom at the school.
Celeste Edenloff / Alexandria Echo Press

In his 20 years with the department, Kuhnau said this was his seventh active shooter training and the fourth one put on by the Alexandria Police Department.

He also said there were a lot of other people who “worked hard” to put this training together.

Attendees included a total of nearly 50 Alexandria police officers and Douglas County Sheriff’s deputies, along with those from the Alexandra Public Schools, North Memorial Ambulance, City of Alexandria, Alexandria Fire Department and Douglas County Emergency Management.

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During a training exercise at the Alexandria Area High School Thursday, Aug. 11, Alexandria police officers, Douglas County sheriff's deputies and North Memorial Ambulance EMT's carry out an injured "victim" to the SWAT team's BearCat armored vehicle.
Celeste Edenloff / Alexandria Echo Press

“The school district was very invested in the training,” said Kuhnau, who noted there were lots of school representatives who attended the drill. “The training went great and I have to say it was one of the better trainings I’ve been a part of. Having so many people involved was great.”

Alexandria Superintendent Rick Sansted was involved with training and said how thankful he was to be there, along with so many staff members.

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During an active assailant training at the Alexandria Area High School last week, Deputy Jon Holm with the Douglas County Sheriff's Office, right, and Detective Josh Whiting with the Alexandria Police Department walk up a stairwell looking for the shooter.
Celeste Edenloff / Alexandria Echo Press

“Our ability to collaborate effectively with our community partners enhances our school safety protocols. The open lines of communication are key in any crisis event,” Sansted aid. “I am so grateful for Alexandria Public Schools to be able to work with our local law enforcement, fire department and emergency response units to support a safe environment for our students and staff as well as a coordinated response if needed.”

Douglas County Sheriff Troy Wolbersen said training of this nature is so important, not only for newer deputies who have just started their careers, but also for veteran deputies who have been through it before.

“It reinforces everything we are trained and taught to do,” he said. “And it was timely training because of all our new deputies. It’s really important to train for situations like this.”

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During a recent active assailant training at the Alexandria Area High School, Alexandria Police Officer Elliott Draz, middle, was playing the role of an officer who had been shot. Helping him was Alexandria Police Officer Nathan Larson and standing guard was Alexandria Police Officer Brandon Plumski.
Celeste Edenloff / Alexandria Echo Press

James Ross, a detective with the Alexandria Police Department assigned to the West Central Minnesota Narcotics Task Force, was one of several instructors for the two training days.

He said it was great working with people from multiple agencies.

“We have really good collaboration with everyone,” said Ross. “We were really happy with how the training went.”

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Sgt. Jacob Asfeld with the Douglas County Sheriff's Office was an instructor for an active assailant training held at the Alexandria Area High School. He was showing his group one of the new shields recently purchased by the sheriff's office.
Celeste Edenloff / Alexandria Echo Press

Alexandria Police Chief Scott Kent said there was a similar training last December at Discovery Middle School and that this training has been in the works for several months.

“School safety is a top priority,” he said. “And the partnership with the school district has been fantastic.”

Kent said there will be more training to come, but that this training with all the partners, like the fire department, sheriff’s office, ambulance and others, was “very well done.”

Julie Anderson, Douglas County Emergency Management director, said she and Sansted had talked about finding a way to add additional components to the tactics type training they have held in the past, so for this training, they had a small group that met several times to plan how to best incorporate the school, fire department, which assists with removal of injured students and staff, and North Memorial Ambulance.

Anderson helped with the coordination of that and during the morning sessions of the training, they included training and role playing for Incident Command, which is set up so a designated individual from law enforcement, EMS, fire and the school, have a place to meet and talk in person if an incident were to happen.

“We also learned about the school’s latest policies and procedures, which was very helpful in pulling together the big picture of a response to an event,” she said.

Her goal now, she said, is to help create, in coordination with the school, law enforcement, fire department, ambulance service and hospital, additional training that focuses on communication and messaging during and following an active shooter incident.

“This type of training is crucial to an efficient and effective response,” said Anderson. “We all learn when we practice together.”

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