Police in Vermont subject unsuspecting students to a mock shooting

Police in Burlington, Vermont, subjected a group of high school students to a mock shooting without warning, traumatizing teenagers raised to hide from — and even fend off — school shooters.

In a statement Thursday, Burlington police apologized for the “presentation” they made at the police station the day before.

“The roll-playing scenario involved only three department personnel simulating a robbery scenario and did not target students or faculty,” the department wrote.

Local news outlet Seven Days reported that the simulation involved police personnel bursting into a room and pretending to open fire:

According to local NBC affiliate WPTZ, school district officials said teachers were aware a gun-related demonstration would take place to show how witness statements can be unreliable, but had not realized it would happen “without warning.”

The choice to conduct a simulated shooting to teach students a lesson about eyewitness testimony is itself a baffling choice, considering the very real threat of gun violence that Americans live with. At a time of loosening gun laws and too-frequent mass shootings, active shooter drills are commonplace in U.S. schools, including kindergarten.

Research has shown that such exercises can have lasting effects on children’s mental health, even when given adequate attention. Gun safety advocates say other school safety measures can be more effective at preventing gun violence — and far less traumatizing for students.

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