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How Police Tactics, Gear Have Changed In The Five Years Since Pulse

Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolon, center, talks about what's changed in the five years since the Pulse nightclub shooting.

Orlando Police Department officials say that if the Pulse shooting happened today, the response would be different.

During the Pulse nightclub shooting, the off-duty police officer working that night fired at the gunman from outside the club – but didn’t step inside the club for five minutes until backup had arrived.

One reason for that? Detective Adam Gruler had a handgun, while the shooter had a military-style assault rifle. And the training at the time was to wait for other officers to form a team when outpowered.

Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolon said Gruler responded properly based on the training he received.

“I think everything that could have been done, that should have been done, was done during that particular incident,” Rolon said. “As a result of it, a different way of training, a different expectation for the response – definitely an improvement on the equipment that we have.”

OPD Deputy Chief Eric Smith said now every officer has an active shooter kit – from patrol officers to traffic homicide detectives.

“Our training really did a great job in improving how we are training our officers, using a one-man active shooter entry, and also giving the tools and resources to our officers,” Smith said. “So now every officer has a rifle in their car. Every officer has the active shooter kit, has the helmet, has the vest in his car.”

Deputy Chief James Young, an openly gay officer who had also done security at Pulse, said it’s key for police departments to build bridges with communities before events happen. Young said that while he lost friends that night, there are other moments from that night that stick with him.

He remembers drag performer Angelica Sanchez running out of the club and recognizing him.

“And she literally runs and just squeezes me, holds me and says, ‘Jim, thank god it’s you, I feel safe,'” Young said. “I always say it was the longest shift of my life, because that shift, to this day, five years later, has not ended.”

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