Several of the training participants practice making their way down a school hallway (without protective helmets or masks). From left are Deputy Billy Damron and Sgt. Albert Carpenter of the Moore County Sheriff's Department, Bill Osterman of the Drug Task Force and Major Jan Phillips of Shelbyville Police Department. The extra clothing and towels were used to pad the officers from the sting and impact of the plastic paintball ammunition.
Tennessee Highway Patrol, Bedford County Emergency Management Agency, and the 17th Judicial District Drug Task Force recently joined forces to sponsor school safety training for law enforcement officers from three counties. Deputies from the Bedford County, Lincoln County, and Moore County Sheriff's Departments, police officers from the Shelbyville and Wartrace Police Departments, Drug Task Force agents, and Tennessee Highway Patrol troopers participated in a two-day class on how to respond to an active gunman in a school incident. Many of the deputies attending the training were School Resource Officers (SROs).
After the tragic Virginia Tech shootings, THP Lt. Johnny Hunter and BCEMA Director Scott Johnson discussed the need to provide locally conducted active shooter response training for area officers and then moved forward to make it happen. The class was put on by two THP training officers from the Department of Safety Training Center at no cost to the local departments. The Drug Task Force provided the specialized paintball ammunition needed to conduct the live fire response scenarios.
From left: State Sen. Jim Tracy, Tennessee Highway Patrol Training Instructor Sgt. Larry Hitchcock, State Repr. Curt Cobb, local THP Lt. Johnny Hunter, THP Training Instructor Sgt. Steven Lowery. Tracy chairs the Senate Transportation Committee, which has oversight of the Department of Safety. Cobb is the secretary of the Commerce Committee, which oversees the Law Enforcement Training Academy. Tracy and Cobb provided the opening remarks and expressed support for this multi-agency school safety training. They also observed some of the training.
Studies of previous school shooting incidents revealed that a timely response and quick action to subdue a gunman are critical to minimize loss of life and injuries. The first officers on the scene of such an incident are normally patrol officers and not a SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) team. Because of these lessons learned, the training focused on how the first few officers on the scene, regardless of what department they are from, quickly team up and enter the school to subdue a gunman.
The first day of training was conducted in the BCEMA public safety training classroom on Railroad Avenue and centered on lessons learned from previous school shootings. The second day involved live fire response training with plastic paintball ammunition at the old Harris Middle School on Elm Street. "Bad guys" and "innocent persons" were placed in the school. Officers had to quickly respond into the school, locate the "bad guy" and subdue him without injuring the "innocent persons."
The THP training officers from Nashville commented that this was the first time they had conducted this training with such a diverse number of departments. They praised the departments for being able to work and train together so well.