DeKALB – Starting today, Northern Illinois University police will conduct training for active-shooter situations on campus, culminating in a full-scale simulation at the end of the month.
NIU police will run simulations from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Friday until May 23 at in Grant Towers South near Grant Drive and Stevenson Drive.
The training will end with a full-scale active-shooter simulation involving city of DeKalb police and fire, Sycamore police, the DeKalb County Sheriff’s police and Illinois State Police on May 30 at Lincoln Hall.
NIU Police Chief Tom Phillips said the public won’t see much of the training happening in the vacant Grant Towers South over the course of the next two weeks because the area will be blocked. Training will take place in the lobby, Grant B Tower and the Grant A and B formal lounge.
“People might see officers moving in and out of the building, but it will be very obvious it’s training,” Phillips said.
The most notable action will take place May 30 when NIU, state and local authorities will take part in a full-scale exercise simulating a multiple active-shooter scenario with the shooters barricaded inside Lincoln Hall with students. The May 30 exercise will involve simulated radio traffic, a test of NIU’s emergency notification system and use of the Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System.
Phillips said his agency conducts similar training annually, but the May 30 exercise will be the first of its size in DeKalb County.
“This exercise will be bringing together all the agencies that would come together during a disaster,” Phillips said. “We’re not an island in and of ourselves. We need to work together.”
During the simulation, officers will be using paintball-like guns that shoot colored soap pellets. Phillips explained each officer will be checked to ensure there are no real weapons involved in the simulation.
NIU officials project traffic delays will occur adjacent to Lincoln Hall on Lucinda Avenue, Annie Glidden Road, Stadium Drive East and Lincoln Drive North.
Phillips added NIU’s history serves as a clear example of why authorities conduct this type of training, pointing to Feb. 14, 2008, when Steven Kazmierczak, a former NIU student, walked into Room 101 of Cole Hall on the university’s DeKalb campus and opened fire, killing five people and injuring at least 16 others before killing himself.
Phillips hopes the multi-jurisdictional exercise will become part of the university’s annual training.
“I think it’s time for a win for this community,” Phillips said. “It’s about bringing the team together.”