In January 2022, the Montgomery County Police Department (MCPD) responded to an active shooter incident involving a student at Magruder High School in Montgomery County, Maryland. Following that incident, and considering other recent active shooter events, MCPD leadership saw an opportunity to provide training to their executive staff to better prepare them for similar situations.
Between February and April 2022, MCPD planned and conducted four tabletop exercises for MCPD executive staff with support from the Maryland-National Capital Region Emergency Response System (MDERS). These exercises assessed MCPD executive staff’s ability to manage the first 30-60 minutes of a major incident, including phases one and two of their response process, while reinforcing participants knowledge and understanding of MCPD directives, policies, and procedures.
A planning team comprised of MDERS and MCPD personnel met bi-weekly for eight weeks to design and develop these exercises. The MCPD representatives selected to participate on the exercise planning team are considered subject matter experts. These individuals all played a role in the response to the Magruder High School incident. Their firsthand knowledge of the incident informed the scenario and Master Scenario Events List (MSEL). MCPD’s directives, policies, and procedures, including the Active Assailant Emergency Response Plan, also informed the development of the MSEL.
The exercise scenario occurred at a local high school in Montgomery County and was modeled after the shooting incident at Magruder High School. The scenario aimed to build MCPD executive staff’s confidence in handling a critical incident. Interactive exercise play, which combined the use of props and floor plans, alongside a discussion facilitated by MCPD and MDERS personnel engaged exercise participants as they responded to the scenario.
In total, 58 MCPD representatives participated in this exercise series, which marks the first MDERS-supported exercises for the department. While the formal after-action review process is ongoing and expected to conclude in August 2022, preliminary feedback from exercise participants was positive. With the completion of this initial exercise series, MCPD executive staff better understand the need for proficiency in key areas of incident command and response. The department continues to work towards providing additional opportunities for officers to build and refine their incident command skills, and gain the operational experience needed to perform in high-stress environments.