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Vermont police department apologizes after visiting students witness simulated robbery, shooting

6/7: CBS Morning News
6/7: CBS Morning News 20:32

A Vermont police department has apologized for a mock shooting that took place at the station while students were there as part of a school program. 

The Burlington High School students were visiting the Burlington Police Department through a school Year End Studies, or YES, forensics program. 

The mock shooting was a "roll-playing (sic) scenario" where three members of the Burlington Police Department simulated "a robbery scenario," according to a news release from the department. 

The simulation was "not directed at any students or faculty," the department said, but was witnessed by the visiting students. One student told local outlet the Vermont Public she did not know about the planned scenario. She said that during the simulation, two screaming women burst into the room, followed by a man in a ski mask. The simulation was accompanied by gunshot sounds, the student said. 

Burlington, Vermont police logo.  Burlington Police

"It was laughed about afterwards," she told the Vermont Public. "(It) just made it feel like a prank, basically — not much of a demonstration." 

The department said that it had communicated the plans for the simulation with school officials.

"On 23 May 2024, police department staff and YES program staff communicated about the details of the scenarios, including saying that the training incident would involve 'using fake firearms in a mock shooting. Do you think that sort of incident would be ok for your group of students? It is about as real life as you can get, and is certainly exactly the sort of thing we deal with most frequently,'" the department said in the news release. 

"YES Program staff responded, 'I think these students will be fine with this simulation. We will give a heads up to parents and students,'" the department continued.

The Burlington School District did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CBS News. 

The police department said it would meet with students Friday to talk about the presentation and its impact. The mother of a student told local outlet Seven Days that she feared the incident could exacerbate children's fears around gun violence. 

"I'm baffled," she told the publication. "It is a very real threat to kids these days to have a school shooting. It's something they worry about."

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