There is a stretch of about 1,800 miles between the Lehigh Valley and Aurora, Colo.
Though it’s the third most populous city in Colorado, some area residents may never have known Aurora existed before July 20, the day it was thrust into national headlines following .
Tragedy can travel 1,800 miles in a snap.
But could such a tragedy happen here, in the Lehigh Valley?
was the scene of multiple -- staged -- tragedies on Thursday, July 26 during specialized training co-hosted by the and National Tactical Officers Association (NTOA).
About 20 police officers from six Northampton County departments participated in the “Active Shooter” training that Don Alwes, an instructor with NTOA, described as “kind of like a scrimmage.”
The 10-hour day included a historical overview of active shooter situations and field training exercises, during which the officers fired their pellet-filled weapons and were fired upon.
While the course heavily focused on situations that involve guns, the officers were trained to handle any situation that poses a threat to a mass of people. A knife-wielding student, for example, poses a significant threat in a crowded hallway.
Upper Nazareth has co-hosted the training for three years, according to Mark Herman, who has been with the department for six years.
Herman explained that Upper Nazareth is the perfect location for training because of the temporary swell in population during the day. Within township boundaries, there are , and .
“We’d have departments from all over the area responding here,” Herman said. “We train so we know how to handle that situation.”
In addition to Upper Nazareth, five other departments sent officers for training:
- Tatamy Borough Police Department
- Northampton County Sheriffs Department
A Northampton County 911 dispatcher also attended the training. According to Scott Greb, an Upper Nazareth officer, the dispatcher said he left with a new appreciation for what happens on the other side of the radio.
The timing of the "Active Shooter" training -- six days after 24-year-old James Holmes allegedly opened fire inside a Colorado movie theater -- was a coincidence.
“It drives it home,” Alwes said of the Colorado shooting’s effect on Thursday’s training. “I played the police audio. I think it really drives it home when you hear the officers on the radio.”