On July 31, Bowie police — in collaboration with Prince George’s County and Anne Arundel County law enforcement — will respond to a simulated school shooting at Samuel Ogle Middle School in Bowie.
It will be the city’s second “active shooter” exercise; the first took place at the Bowie Town Center last summer, said Bowie Police Sgt. Joseph Rose, who is organizing the drill.
Rose said the school scenario is relevant in light of recent shootings at a primary school and college campuses.
“In all these drills, we’re always learning new things, we’re always finding strengths and weaknesses and we’re building on what we’ve learned in the past,” he said. “The biggest [challenge] being the aid from other agencies and [coordinating] efforts because not everyone operates on the same radio channels, not everyone is going to come in uniform.”
While Rose said he could not divulge many details about the drill in an effort to make it as authentic as possible, he said there will be around 12 police officers and 100 role-players participating — including community volunteers and local members of Police Explorers, a program that gives students exposure to careers in law enforcement. A helicopter may also be employed, he said. The exercise will take place between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. July 31, and traffic on Chelmont Lane next to the school will be impacted during that time, Rose said.
Ogle Principal Mark Covington said he thinks the exercise will be a learning experience and better prepare the school.
“I feel very confident in the [Bowie Police Department’s] skills in making this a very valuable learning tool for the police department and the school system,” he said. “I really want to applaud the police department for coming up with this.”
Covington said any lessons Ogle learns from the exercise will be disseminated to other schools in Prince George’s County.
“I know [the police] have assured me they will give us feedback, and give us some thoughts and ideas about what we can do differently to protect our students,” he said. “No one ever knows when something like this could happen. [The drill] is a great idea.”
Bowie Councilman Henri Gardner (Dist. 3) said the active shooter drill highlights the importance of public safety.
“It is very important that our officers can protect our community and its citizens and keep them safe,” he said. “Public safety is paramount to all other issues. If we have public safety, then we can move on to other areas.”
Gardner said he was pleased that other law enforcement agencies are planning to collaborate with the Bowie Police Department on the active shooter drill.
“It is significant that the counties are all participating in this together,” he said. “It’s great we are able to host such an activity and bring other [agencies] to Bowie.”