NEW MEXICO – New Mexico State University (NMSU) conducted a multi-agency active shooter and crisis management training exercise Thursday, Aug. 10, on the Las Cruces campus.
The training exercise focused on NMSU’s emergency response plan to an active shooter situation and an incident involving explosive devices found on campus. The NMSU Police and Fire Departments organized the exercise to help ensure a coordinated, timely and effective response and recovery in the event of a major incident.
The training was conducted at two locations on campus. At the first, police responded to an active shooter at the Aggie Health and Wellness Center, 3080 Breland Drive. Officers dispatched to the location apprehended a “suspect” simulating a shooting within two minutes of the 911 call. The subject had entered the center under a disguise under the guise of seeking medical treatment before “opening fire” inside and “wounding” two people.
Five minutes after the “shooting,” police received reports that “suspicious” packages had been found in Rhodes-Garrett-Hamiel Hall, a residence hall located between the NMSU Bookstore and the Corbett Center Student Union. Doña Ana County bomb squad bomb squad members went to the scene, evacuated the building and discovered two dummy bombs as part of the drill, which were “defused” over the course of two hours.
“I’m very pleased with our response today,” said Justin Dunivan, deputy chief of the NMSU Police Department. “We always try to make sure it’s a positive learning environment, especially when we involve all the other agencies. When we come together like this in an active shooter drill, we show our strengths and also what we can work on in the future.”
Seven other area first responder and law enforcement agencies participated in the training, including NMSU Fire Rescue, Las Cruces Fire Rescue, Mesilla Sheriff’s Office, Las Cruces Police Department, Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Office and New Mexico State Police. About three dozen law enforcement officers participated in the exercise.
The university noted that it conducts regular crisis training in compliance with the federal Clery Act, but Thursday’s exercise was the first large-scale law enforcement training since 2019.