Officers who responded to Saanich bank shootout undergo specialized training at firing range

Officers who responded to Saanich bank shootout undergo specialized training at firing range

Police officers who charged toward a hail of bullets at a Saanich bank last week in a deadly shootout will undergo special training at a firing range to aid in their recovery from the traumatic incident.

Saanich and Victoria police officers will take part in the training at the Victoria Fish and Game Protective Association range just off the Malahat Highway “over the coming weeks,” a police spokesman confirmed Thursday.

“This re-integration process at the range works to diminish the potential for long-term psychological injury through a step-by-step process that addresses the unique stressors officers may experience after a critical incident,” VicPD spokesman Const. Cam MacIntyre told CHEK News in a statement.

The training will see officers exposed to firearms and gunfire as they work with a psychologist, and will allow participants to choose areas of training they’d like to focus on as they re-acclimate to their workplaces.

“The program has been designed to acknowledge that the officer has been through a traumatic event and to provide the opportunity to work through any triggers the event has created, while ensuring the officer is in the safety of a controlled environment,” said MacIntyre.

Officers will determine their own pace and scope of the process and are supported by peers for the duration of the training, he added.

The training will be based on Edmonton Police Service’s program “Workplace Re-Integration After a Critical Incident,” which has been used by police agencies around the world in helping officers deal with the trauma that comes with being involved in a dangerous shooting like last Tuesday’s.

“We know at these times when we’re facing life-threatening situations, we don’t know how our brain is going to encode the pieces,” said Edmonton Police Staff-Sgt. Glen Klose, who helped create the specialized program. “It’s those pieces that can come back and manifest itself in what’s known as a bit of a trigger.”

Klose said the Saanich shooting is “on the heavier end of the scale” in terms of its scope, which is even more of a reason to take steps to properly reintegrate officers.

“We have a lot of officers that were involved in this event, so I applaud the Victoria and Saanich police to say ‘let’s do this right,'” he said.

Testimonials provided by officers who took part in the Edmonton program say it helped them regain confidence as they moved toward reintegration after a critical incident.

“Throughout my time in the reintegration, it was always made clear that I was in control,” wrote one officer. “I was able to dictate how long the sessions were, what we talked about and how fast or slow I wanted to proceed. This took an enormous weight off and made me more comfortable attending the sessions.”

MacIntyre also said Thursday there has been no change in the medical status of the three Victoria police officers injured in the bank shooting, with one remaining in hospital and two continuing to recover at home.

Earlier this week, Saanich police confirmed that two of its officers were still in hospital, with one remaining in ICU.

Investigators have identified the suspects in the shooting, who were both killed in the shootout, as twin brothers from Duncan, Mathew and Isaac Auchterlonie. Neither had criminal records and the pair was not known to police. The brothers’ family is cooperating with investigators.

The Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crime Unit, which has assumed conduct of the investigation, has not provided any new details since confirming the twins’ identities over the weekend.

Jeff LawrenceJeff Lawrence

Recent Stories

Send us your news tips and videos!