Area law enforcement train for active school shooting

Area law enforcement train for active school shooting

JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) – When a school shooting tragedy happens, we expect our first responders to be well trained and ready to respond.

Throughout the summer, members of the Jonesboro Police Department sharpened their skills with hours of training.

The training is invaluable when it comes to saving lives.

“We have training that goes on year-round,” said Jonesboro Police Chief Rick Elliott. “Training for us never stops.”

The summer training took place in various schools across Jonesboro and involved officers undergoing training that simulated real-life events, so every officer who may respond to a mass casualty shooting event knows what to do.

“We do not want there to be any surprises,” Elliott said.

In the past three months, he said all of his officers have undergone extensive training to prepare for the worst.

For one full day, each of the department’s four different shifts spent hours in area schools, reenacting the scene.

“You can’t plan 100% that everything will go smoothly according to plan,” Elliott said.

The training simulates what officers might encounter when responding to a school shooting. They’re forced to make decisions on how to save lives when they themselves may be under fire.

“I expect that everybody from the bottom all of the way to myself, that we will respond and we will gear up and go in,” Elliott said.

These situations are more than officers looking for a shooter. The training prepares officers for scared students and staff rushing towards them.

“You have to push that child aside and find the person doing the shooting. If the shooting is still going on, you have to stop the threat,” Elliott said. “Going through different aspects of the scenarios so any flaws you can bring out, critique, and polish it up.”

The summer training for Jonesboro police officers is in addition to months of previous training and regular continuing education.

At the Black River Technical College Law Enforcement Academy, a virtual reality shoot, don’t shoot simulator called VirTra is used to teach recruits and seasoned officers

On the day we were there, three Randolph County sheriff’s deputies went through two scenarios. One of them was an active school shooter. Each officer was tasked with finding and neutralizing the killers.

“That [VirTra] allows us, in a controlled environment, to teach decision making,” said Jared Bassham, the academy director.

Using a computer, the instructor can control the outcome of the simulation based on the officer or deputy’s performance.

“Allows us in a controlled environment to make those mistakes, learn from those mistakes, and see what their bodies are going to do to respond to those stimuli,” Bassham said.

BRTC’s law enforcement academy requires officers to undergo this training before they graduate.

In addition to split-second decision-making, it teaches them teamwork, including working with other departments during a mass casualty.

“You get this massive LE presence. By training, starting at the academy level and moving up to the agency level, if I respond and there is an officer from the Game and Fish Commission, a state trooper, and a Craighead deputy, we all have been trained the same,” Bassham said. “We all know what each other is going to do.”

The goal is so if and when law enforcement is put in a situation where they must act to save lives, training will kick in, and mistakes are minimized.

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