While parents are busy shopping for back-to-school supplies and clothing for children who will soon be heading back to school, officers from the Georgetown Police Department have been conducting active shooter training at Scott County schools.
A hallway at Great Crossing High School was filled with smoke and shotgun shells last week as officers went through a number of different scenarios that tested their concentration and sharpened their abilities. Although no real danger was present, it was important to make the training as realistic as possible so that officers would be prepared if similar incidents were to occur in the future, said DPG Deputy Chief Darin Allgood.
“It’s really good training because it helps officers keep that type of training fresh in their minds and it helps officers adapt,” Allgood said. “Because it’s as practical and as lively as possible, it gives them the opportunity to see as real as possible. Every time you go out here and you have rounds, voids, in long hallways, you can hear the he echo, even with the earplugs on, is still very loud.
Volunteers were used to play the role of active shooters and victims, setting up a number of different scenarios for the officers. During a run, the gunman pictured fired a blank shot as another actor fell in front of officers from a side hallway. Officers went through a number of stressful courses, each with a different storyline and varying number of attackers.
“When they hear that first shot, you can still see the officers jumping a little,” Allgood said. “As the scripts go, we start with the basic script, just to get the blood pumping a bit, and then we work…maybe just a bad guy or two with our actors who are here, running around saying that he went that way or he’s in the hallway,” he said.
Although a recent school shooting in Uvalde, Texas has been at the center of the nation’s mourning and debate regarding the police response to active shooters inside the walls of educational institutions, Allgood said the trainings provided by the DPM are those that have been conducted annually to prepare officers for incidents that could occur anywhere or at any time. He added that while the training is not due to the particular shooting in Texas, it is important that officers stay on top of training to ensure they are able to protect the community when the time comes.
“Anyone can say, ‘I would run and do that. I would do that,” but… it’s a little different when it’s for real or even whenever it’s as realistic as possible. That’s why we’re trying to prepare ourselves to have the mindset to fight and keep going because you don’t know what you’re fighting against,” he said. “It’s our job to do our best to keep our community safe. He doesn’t have to be in a school. It could be in a factory or a church or anywhere. We just want to make sure we’re prepared as mentally, emotionally and physically as possible. »
With a growing community, residents remain a tight-knit group, especially within law enforcement like the GPD, he said, adding that undergoing active shooter training in familiar school buildings requires officers to face the startling reality that a school shooting is always a possibility.
“We know that, hey, my co-worker has a kid going to school here,” he said. “We have taken this oath and we are doing everything we can to ensure their safety. Unfortunately, these kinds of events happen, and I hope it never happens here, but if it does, we’ll do our best to prepare.
There’s no doubt that first responders sometimes deal with stressful situations, but Allgood said it’s the resilience of people like his officers that helps them be able to act on it and get the job done. .
“You have to have what we call the warrior mindset. When you get up every day, put on this badge, you know it might be the last time you see your wife, husband or kids. You know when you walk in there, you may never be able to see them again,” he said. “Whenever you are faced with an incident or scenario like this you have to walk through, it is your job to prevent bad things from happening to children, adults, anyone, to keep the community safe.”
This reality can weigh on officers, but they rely on each other to persevere in difficult situations that could threaten their communities, he said. When it comes to keeping students safe, Allgood added that his officers are ready to do whatever it takes to have a safe learning environment where “kids can be kids.”
“We appreciate the school system. They allow us to enter their schools… We work closely with them. Some of their employees are here in the building, and they heard the gunshots. It’s good for them to hear it now so they know if they hear something like that,” he said.
“We also want to encourage students, not only is it our job to protect you, but know that if there is a student who hears something that doesn’t sound right, if they see something, don’t have scared to say a teacher, Officer (Ben) Martin or Officer (Brandon) White, our school resource officers, because it takes all of us,” he said. “If you see something , say something. We hate to have to tell the kids this, but stay alert and be aware of your surroundings.
“We still want kids to be kids and still be able to go to school and be safe and all that, but as unfortunate as that is, always have your eyes open and be aware of your surroundings.”