Lake Mary PD changes policies after terrorism training course in New Mexico



LAKE MARY, Fla. - Lake Mary is relying on the federal government to train its officers on how to respond to active-shooter incidents and bomb threats.

In May, Channel 9 reported how the department planned to send all its officers through a terrorist training course in New Mexico.

On Monday, WFTV's Racquel Asa found out the training has already prompted the department to change a number of its policies.

Lake Mary police say half of the force has already gone through the terrorist bomb class in New Mexico and it's already changing policy for when officers get in their car and respond to an incident.

Twenty officers in the department have already seen firsthand the damage homemade bombs can do. Officials have decided to double the perimeter that is evacuated and closed off for a suspicious package.

Before the federal program, officers were only equipped with four hours of terrorist training. Now, they'll be armed with 40 hours of training.

"It's critical we understand when we see a device to be able to recognize what it is and its capabilities," said Zach Hudson of the Lake Mary Police Department.

The training comes just weeks after the shooting hoax at Lake Mary High School.

Hudson said part of the training included how to respond to an active shooter, and his officers plan to share that new information with the district and sheriff's office, including why the parking lot isn't the best spot to send students during an evacuation.

"Parking lots, you can have secondary devices, you know, a bomb in a car," said Hudson. "Car bombs, pipe bombs under vehicles."

Hudson suggests evacuating to open fields and recommends not bunching people together tightly.

The department plans to have the rest of its officers trained by the summer.

Department officials said they got a federal grant that paid for the cost of travel and the training.