MADISON, Wis. - As crews investigate a deadly hostage situation inside the country's largest veterans home in California, News 3 has learned Wisconsin's Department of Veterans Affairs can’t confirm whether its own active shooter procedures have been fully practiced at some state veterans homes.
Dan Zimmerman, secretary of Wisconsin's Department of Veterans Affairs, told News 3 all three of the state's veterans homes have specific active shooter training and protocol in place. In fact, Zimmerman said the homes invoked that protocol Friday, when an active shooter was reported 2,000 miles away in Yountville, California, though he didn't clarfy what that invocation would include, citing safety concerns.
Zimmerman also couldn't say when the active shooter training plans were put in place for veterans homes, but he did say they are practiced with local law enforcement about three times a year. Documentation provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs shows a tabletop exercise – essentially a meeting about the plans – was held in November for Union Grove. A spokesperson for the department could not confirm whether at least two of the state’s three vet homes have ever practiced operations-based exercises, meaning a full-blown rehearsal of an active shooter training.
"Do we have the right plans in place, and are we able to execute those plans on a moment's notice?" Zimmerman said. "And it worked great on Friday."
Zimmerman says each home - King, Union Grove and Chippewa Falls - each have their own variations of the plan, tailored to that specific location.
"You have to take into account the facility you have, its setup, how big it is, its location in the state and what other entities might be around it," he said.
"We're always updating," Zimmerman said. "We're always looking at things and we're always talking to local law enforcement to see what we need to modify."
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