| January 24, 2020 By Hector Gonzalez
Insights that officials gleaned from the 2018 mass shooting in Ventura County are having a bearing on the tactical training methods chosen by the region’s first responders.
Since the Nov. 7, 2018, shooting at Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks that claimed 12 lives, including sheriff’s Sgt. Ron Helus, efforts have largely focused on improving training and tactical responses to large tragedies.
After the shooting, Ventura County Fire Department accelerated the formation of the tactical emergency medical support unit, a team of about 11 firefighters able to respond with the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office’s Special Weapons and Tactics team, or SWAT, to dangerous mass-scale operations.
Now Ventura County Sheriff’s Foundation volunteers are raising money to better train deputies in live-fire situations.
Working with Minnesota based Range Systems, one of the nation’s leading players in the shooting range market, foundation officials are developing a “top of the line” use-of-force shooting simulator for VCSO’s training center on Durley Avenue at Camarillo Airport, said Christina Conley of the foundation’s board of directors.
Although the training center’s existing simulator puts deputy trainees through real-life shooting situations like domestic violence, suicide threats and school shootings, the upgraded system will take that training to a higher level and “will pave the way toward new methods and advancements in training our law enforcement officers,” Sheriff Bill Ayub said in a statement.
Primarily, the project will add a live-fire training simulator “designed to mimic residential, commercial and industrial spaces to better acquaint personnel for close-contact engagements,” Conley said.
Traditionally, trainees have had to travel to facilities in Los Angeles or Glendale to get the same level of training that the new simulator will provide, Conley said.
“Since the Borderline incident . . . the sheriff’s foundation has worked with the sheriff’s office to identify what enhancements could better prepare deputies to face modern public safety issues,” she said.
Glenn Seeger of Range Systems said he would be meeting with foundation board member David Alpern to discuss the project.
“We are still early in our design-function discussions,” Seeger said.
Foundation members began focusing on fundraising during the last part of 2019, Conley said.
Last week, foundation officials announced a $250,000 donation to the project from the Dr. Richard Grossman Community
Foundation and its president, Elizabeth Rice Grossman, whose husband founded the Grossman Burn Center in Sherman Oaks.
Some additional funding has come from KB Homes, Gothic Landscape, Design Masonry and Mastro’s Restaurants, Conley said.
Spurred by the Grossman donation, foundation members are organizing “what we hope will be our final push at securing the remaining $400,000 needed to break ground,” she said.
Officials hope to raise the remaining funds by the end of the summer “so that we can begin construction by the end of the year,” Conley said.
“We are hopeful that our county will come forward to help us reach our goal,” she said.