Police officers from multiple agencies in Cook County often train together for active shooter situations. In fact, dozens of area officers were rehearsing Wednesday at a secret location when news broke of the mass shootings in San Bernardino, California.
The Cook County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management sponsors the training exercises and the Illinois Tactical Officers Association provides instructors. The continuous training dates back to the years before mass shootings have become increasingly prominent across the country.
"Everyone comes to this because we have to stop these people from killing the innocent folks as quickly as possible," said ITOA instructor Ed Mohn.
Mohn said in the event of a mass shooter situation in Cook County, officers from different law enforcement agencies would ultimately respond to the scene.
"Initially, you may have one or two or three or four guys from the same department, but very quickly you're going to have all agencies from the surrounding area show up," Mohn said.
The goal, instructors said, is to get officers on the same page and using the same tactics.
During Wednesday's exercise, participants loaded rifles with paint cartridges. According to Mohn, this allowed the officers to engage and distinguish between good and bad when responding to a mock shooter situation.
More than 10,000 first responders across Cook County go through similar training.
"It's a dynamic type of training so every time something changes in the field, we come back with training for our first responders," said Ernest Brown, executive director of The Cook County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.