Burlington Police and Fire Host Active Shooter Drill at Mall

The Burlington Police and Fire Departments hosted a number of agencies for an active shooter drill at the Burlington Mall late last month. (Photo Courtesy of Alyssa Papsedero)
BURLINGTON – Police Chief Michael Kent and Fire Chief Steve Yetman report that the Burlington Police and Fire Departments hosted a number of agencies late last month for a successful active shooter drill, which allowed police officers, firefighters, and medics to practice responding to and coordinating resources in the event of an unthinkable incident of violence.
Nearly 50 first responders participated in the training, which took place at the Burlington Mall on the evening of Sunday, April 30. The training, hosted in conjunction Simon Property Group and Allied Universal Security, also included police officers from Lexington, Belmont, Billerica, and Bedford, along with personnel from the Northeastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council SWAT and RRT units. The Billerica Fire Department and Billerica EMS also participated.
“These training sessions, which we hold regularly with our Burlington and neighboring agencies, are an invaluable opportunity to use a real-life venue to practice how we would respond to a critical public safety incident,” Chief Kent said. “These exercises allow us to hone our skills and become more effective in responding to a crisis here or elsewhere, and I am grateful to everyone who participated as well as to our hosts, Simon Property Group, for once again partnering with Burlington Police and Fire for this drill.”
Burlington has a population of about 25,000 residents, but it is also home to a large and diverse commercial base. Tens of thousands of commuters come to work here each day. The Burlington Mall is a top shopping destination, and the town has six hotels and two more coming online later this year. 
During the simulation, officers played the roles of active shooters, walking throughout the mall firing blank rounds. Officers used tactics and best practices to conduct a search and ultimately locate the shooter. The mall setting allowed officers to practice searching hallways, stairways, corridors, utility areas, and wide open areas like the food court. 
The drill once again made use of the revolutionary Burlington Rescue Task Force (RTF), a combination of the Burlington Police and Fire Departments that teams armed officers with rescue medics who need to be delivered safely to critical areas and patients in need during a violent situation. 
Participants in the drill were divided into four-member multi-jurisdictional teams. All units completed the training and engaged in a post-training debriefing, where organizers offered both praise and constructive criticism.
“The close working partnerships among police and fire departments in this part of the state make us all better prepared to respond to a critical incident,” Chief Yetman said. “These training operations are very important, as they hone our skills and give first responders from several different agencies a chance to work together, just in case the real thing ever happens.

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