School and law enforcement officials in Central Florida’s Volusia County are to be commended for their efforts to prepare sheriff’s deputies and other first responders for a possible school shooting.
Shortly after the 1999 Columbine massacre, the sheriff’s department began training to preserve life and property with an emphasis on being able to get kids safely away from a school where a shooting incident was in progress.
One officer said: “We started to prepare for what we thought of as unthinkable.”
Since then, the department has grown ever more sophisticated in its preparations. Working closely with the school district, the department now has aerial photos of the county’s school campuses, as well as blueprints of about 95 percent of the schools. The department continues to update its databases as campuses expand or contract.
Deputies engage in training with live gunfire at their own training facility. And recently, they conducted a four-hour simulation of an active shooter-hostage situation at a local high school. In order to free 50 “hostages“ from five make-believe terrorists, the department made use of SWAT teams, sniper units, armored cars, grenades, and other simulated firepower.
The practice event involved law enforcement from six regional counties and included police officers, firefighters, emergency medical personnel, paramedics, and hospital staff.
This is the type of cooperation between school and law enforcement officials that should be taking place in every community across the country.
Patrick Fiel is public safety advisor for ADT Security Services and a former executive director of school security for Washington, D.C. Public School System. He also served 22 years in the Army Military Police Corps, where his responsibilities included day-to-day security operations at the West Point Military Academy. During his time with ADT, Fiel has conducted more than 100 television, radio, newspaper, and magazine interviews as a public and school safety expert.
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