Just weeks before kids return to school in South Florida, Miami-Dade and Miami Gardens police officers practiced responding to an active school shooter situation, Monday.

The officers trained at the North Dade K-8 Center with the help of students in their Police Explorers Program.

Miami-Dade Schools Police Chief Ian Moffett said the training prepares officers for possible school shootings, while also making parents aware that the people charged with protecting their children know what to do.

“I’m a big believer in highly qualified training and constant training,” Moffett said. “I can’t think of a better way to show how we impact lives today for a better tomorrow by providing a functional drill just before school starts.”

School police worked with Miami Gardens police so they would have the same training, applying lessons learned from recent and near decades-old shootings.

The scenario police simulated was a shooting in a neighborhood near the school, with suspects running across the street into a classroom. Police undergo tactical and functional training throughout the year, aside from the classroom and online training that combined for 23,000 hours of training for the department in 2015.

Elizabeth Cruz, a student in the Explorers Program, said the training helps them prepare to assist other students.

“It’s good to have these officers that we get to connect with and communicate with, and they tell us what to do in these scenarios and how to help out our fellow students that don’t do Explorers,” Cruz said.

Moffett said despite how rare shootings are, training for them is necessary.

It’s a training experience police acknowledge can be intimidating, but they know, from mass shootings in and out of school environments, no matter how rare, is still necessary.

“We hope the worst scenario never happens,” Moffett said. “But if it does, let the public know that these agencies and these law enforcement officers in this county are prepared to respond to an active shooter exactly the way we’re supposed to respond, quickly and dynamically to deal with the situation.”

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