Independence Co. officers train to respond to school shooting - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

Independence Co. officers train to respond to school shooting

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INDEPENDENCE COUNTY, AR (KAIT) – Police officers drew their guns and stormed a local school, practicing for a day they hope never comes.

The situation may sound sinister, but it was all part of a drill designed to prepare every Independence County sheriff's deputy for a mass shooting.

"With all the shootings and stuff that's been going on over the past couple of years," Lt. Brent Everett said, "we're trying to make sure that all of our officers in the department are trained on active shooter situations."

Almost 30 officers received active shooter training Thursday at the vacant school building in Cushman, Ark., located about 10 miles north of Batesville.

 The school provided the ideal venue to test the department's response in case of a shooting.

"They're practicing entering buildings where we suspect there's a threat," Lt. Everett said. "Then once there's a known threat, they move towards that threat so that they can get it either contained or ended as quickly as possible."

The sheriff's office brought in a trainer named Mike Aultman, who serves as vice president of training for AMTEC Less-Lethal Systems.

Aultman's company is world renowned and offers tactical training to law enforcement agencies through various scenarios.

The Independence County officers started off their training session in the classroom, first reviewing a history of active shooting situations.

"We did a little bit of profiling on the active shooters themselves as far as the demographics," Aultman said, "and then we looked at the trends with the Department of Justice as far as the injuries that occurred in the last 10 years, the deaths that occurred, what type of places it is and then also the disposition of those."

Aultman then led the officers in a series of what he calls "movement exercises" through the vacant school.

"It's getting guys to work together as a group," he said, "whether that's a two-, three-, or four-man crew knowing that they need to move directly to the threat.

"They've got to be able to shift the speed in the middle of a scenario, in the middle of a situation," he added, "because these whole things are very fluid and very dynamic in nature."

The officers then began role playing, carrying plastic guns with paint pellets as bullets. They were tasked with searching the classrooms for a suspected gunman, which first appeared as a paper target but was then substituted with an actual person.

Lt. Everett oversaw all these drills, while Aultman offered advice and criticism along the way. He hoped that the officers would take away one main message that a shooting can occur anywhere at any time.

"The single biggest thing is that it's not happening in big cities," he said. "It's happening in small towns in rural America, and it's not only in just schools. The statistics say that it's primarily business places."

The sheriff's office could only train half its staff Thursday.

Another 30 officers will go through the same drills and exercises Friday starting at 8 a.m.

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