Sheriff's office planning active shooter training for schools

Allen Youngman

Officials with the Daviess County Sheriff's Department have trained teachers and staff members from Daviess County Public Schools on how to respond to active shooter situations annually for several years, and will do similar training again this summer.

Allen Youngman, a retired Army major general and firearms and mass shooting instructor for the sheriff's department, said the repetition is not redundant, but necessary.

"Teachers in that situation have a limited number of choices," Youngman said. "But the more they think about it (in training), the more confidence they have" in making a decision on how to act, he said.

The training that school officials will receive comes from what emergency responders learn from recent school shootings. For example, Youngman said officials who studied the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting at Parkland, Florida, determined the best course of action for students in classrooms is to lock the door and move against the wall where they can't be seen through the door's window.

"We were already teaching that, but tragedy in Florida reinforced the importance of doing that," Youngman said. Hiding under desks in classrooms still exposes students to being shot through the door's window, he said.

Moving students against a wall away from the window keeps them out of site, Youngman said.

A goal of training is not to give teachers one fixed plan, because students are not in classrooms all day. Youngman said training should give teachers options for how to best protect students when they are in different parts of the school.

During the 1999 mass shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado, the plan was for students to shelter under desks, Youngman said. That's what students did in the library, although there were external exits where students could have escaped.

"We want to give them tools to make decisions," Youngman said. In a shooting situation, it's dangerous for school officials to be "locked into one course of action."

In the past, the sheriff's department has provided training for both county and city schools. In a shooting situation, officers from multiple agencies would respond, Youngman said.

During the January 2018 shooting at Marshall County High School, "in the first 10 minutes, they had over 100 responders" at the scene, Youngman said.

With the training, the goal is to improve "teachers' and staff's ability to keep students safe" until responders arrive, he said.

James Mayse, 270-691-7303, jmayse@messenger-inquirer.com, Twitter: @JamesMayse

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