Police plan nighttime Market Place training exercise

Police plan nighttime Market Place training exercise

CHAMPAIGN — The Champaign police department expects about 70 area officers to participate in a training exercise that starts late Tuesday night at the Market Place Mall in north Champaign.

The event gives police from several area agencies rare access to a large public area where there might be what police refer to as an "active shooter."

Area agencies will also participate in the training, which is scheduled to kick off about 10 p.m. Tuesday after the mall closes and continue until about 5 a.m. Wednesday.

Champaign police Lt. Jim Clark did not want to make the details of the scenario public so that the officers participating will be surprised, but he described the mock situation as "huge" and one that, if it really happened, would attract major media attention.

Sgt. Joe Ketchem, who is assisting Clark with the planning, said area police try to do one major joint training exercise each year.

"One of the things we're training for is an active shooter situation that they might have at a mall or somewhere large like that. It helps us to make sure we have our communication in place and that we are all on the same page," Ketchem said.

Clark added that the departments' various specialized units such as the explosive ordnance team and the SWAT team do monthly training as individual units.

"Not often do all the specialized units come together and train with all the other departments. It's good practice for us to train everybody together as one team," he said.

Message boards will be placed in the area alerting passing motorists that what is going on is a training exercise and that they should not be alarmed.

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