Cheektowaga Details Active Shooter Plan

March 7, 2013 Updated Mar 7, 2013 at 12:44 AM EDT

By Kendra Eaglin

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March 7, 2013 Updated Mar 7, 2013 at 12:44 AM EDT

Cheektowaga, NY
(WKBW)

It's a new day in public schools across America and that's what brought parents to the Maryvale High School auditorium Wednesday night.

Police tip line flyers and free gun locks were handed out at the door as families prepared to watch a presentation from the Cheektowaga Police department on how the department would respond if the worst case scenario happened, a gunman on the loose in one of the city's 21 school buildings.

"Everybody thinks it'll never happened to them. I think that way too. We have a great school, our doors are locked, but you never know," said Roseann Devine, a parent of two Maryvale School students.

You could hear a pin drop as the presentation began with a chilling 10 minute video chronicling mass shootings in the U.S. starting with a massacre inside a diner in Kileen, Texas on October 16, 1991 that killed 23 people.

Cheektowaga Police Chief David Zack explained how these events led to the formation of what we know as SWAT teams, five to six person units specifically trained to respond to active shooter calls.

But his opinion of SWAT teams may surprise you. He says they don't work in this scenario.

And here's why. In the Columbine High School shooting it took SWAT officers 43 minutes to enter the Colorado school..

Even though there were armed officers on the scene in less than 5 minutes they were told to stand down and wait for SWAT to arrive.

In drills conducted by the Cheektowaga Police Department Chief Zack determined five to six member teams are slow, ineffective and can be a huge target for suspects.

Instead, his department is trained to take down an active shooter in one to two man teams who enter the building immediately, using tactical skills to hunt down the suspect and engage and push the suspect toward other two man teams who enter the structure and set up lockdowns.

There are two more important steps the Cheektowaga police department is taking. They have a number system for each classroom, library, cafeteria, office and even the windows of individual buildings at schools to make it easier to communicate during a crisis.

They are also working on getting live camera feeds in schools.