Ready to respond

PUHI — The Kauai Police Department SWAT team rolled in its armored vehicle slowly on a grassy field, exited one by one and carefully approached a Kauai Community College building on Wednesday, demanding cooperation from a suspect.

“Open the door,” the officer in the front of the single-file line yelled.

After pounding on the door multiple times, the team forced its way through and the sound of a gunshot from the inside of the building stung their ears.

Two SWAT team members mocked leg injuries and were dragged and carried by other members to their vehicle, where they were treated.

The team was among 25 people from state, federal and county agencies that kicked off emergency scenario exercises with the Hawaii National Guard at Kauai Community College on Wednesday.

“In this day in age, unfortunately, we have a lot of active shooting incidents around the nation,” said Alvin Sato, commander of the 93rd Civil Support Team, a unit with the Hawaii National Guard that assists, advises and assesses first responders. “As part of preparing, we want to prepare the County of Kauai if there is an event of an active shooter here on campus.”

The multi-agency exercise that ends today is aimed to ensure that Kauai’s first responders will be better prepared for natural and man-made events.

About 10 members of the Kauai Police Department SWAT team participated in a scenario that involved gathering intelligence about a chemical material used by a suspect, said Sean Cripps, Hawaii National Guard science officer.

Sato said the information gathered by KPD will be used in today’s large-scale exercise, also at KCC, that will involve more than a dozen agencies.

“(These exercises) are extremely important to build collaborations, build unity of effort,” Sato said. “Everybody knows what their roles are. We want to be here to help the community prepare for any type of tragic events so they can be reactionary and know where to go.”

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