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Quick Nashville Police Response Showed Post-Uvalde Officer Mindset

The swift response to last week's Nashville school shooting in which three adults and three 9-year-old children were killed highlighted how law enforcement tactics and training have evolved to confront the reality of repeated mass shootings at schools. It illustrated a renewed focus on confronting the assailant as soon as possible, a longstanding priority underscored by the botched response to the elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Tex., last May, the New York Times reports. “We always hoped it would never happen in Nashville, but we trained on the possibility it could always happen,” said Nashville Police Chief John Drake. “We know we have to keep moving toward the threat, and we knew that we had to go in and we could not wait.” The actions of law enforcement in Nashville, captured in an edited six-minute compilation of body camera footage, stood in stark contrast with the police response in Uvalde, a rampage that ended more than an hour after it began as officers delayed a confrontation with a barricaded gunman who killed 19 children and two teachers.

The shooting in Uvalde, one of the deadliest at a primary or secondary school, had weighed on senior law enforcement officials in Nashville and other departments before the attack at the Covenant School as a reminder of what could go wrong. “One recurring theme that has been laid almost in stone is that we have to go in — it’s our job, it’s our duty to go in and make sure that we’re doing our part to address the threat,” said Sgt. Justin Coker of the Nashville Police. Chuck Wexler of the Police Executive Research Forum said that while it was the 1999 rampage at Columbine High School in Colorado that first transformed how police trained to confront a shooter immediately, the response in Uvalde now “is on the mind of every police officer.” “The message of Uvalde is that you go as fast as you can, as quickly as you can, and that’s what I saw” in Nashville, Wexler said. Chris Rozman was interim deputy chief of the Michigan State University Police Department when a gunman killed three people on campus in February before dying of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, after hundreds of officers fanned out across the sprawling campus. He said the Uvalde shooting had “just reinforced it, that our officers are trained to respond as fast as possible.”

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