The thought of an active shooter opening fire on students while they are at school is too terrifying to imagine. However, that is just what law enforcement and school personnel will be preparing for during a one-day training course to be held at William Woods University.
On Nov. 21, school administrators, teachers, counselors, school resource personnel and DARE officers of mid-Missouri are encouraged to participate in a two-part course provided by Missouri’s Homeland Security Program. The course will teach them the necessary precautions to take in the event that an active shooter might take action on campus or school grounds.
According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, an active shooter is an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people at random in a confined and populated area.
“An event like this is not likely to occur,” commented Mike Wills, director of safety and security and residential life at WWU. “In fact, school campuses are one of the safest places you can be. However, you’re being a responsible administrator by knowing what to do just in case.”
An active shooter situation usually begins and ends 10 to 15 minutes before law enforcement personnel are able to arrive on the scene, which is why Sergeant Mark Beardsley of the Holts Summit Police Department finds value in this course.
“It is important not just for law officials to know what to do, but for the administrative side to know, as well. That way they have an idea of what to expect from us,” stated Beardsley.
The course is designed to bridge the gap between responding officers and school faculty. It will assist school personnel in their ability to prevent, report and protect themselves and their students from an active shooter during the critical moments while waiting for police to arrive. It will also tell what to expect from officers once they are on the scene.
“Television and the Internet sensationalize active shootings and there are a lot of things about active shooting out there that is untrue,” Wills said. “I believe that just an awareness of these practices helps educators. It is important because it allows people to educate themselves, and knowledge helps to alleviate fear.”
In fact, Beardsley claims that shootings have decreased, stating, “Contrary to what you hear on the news, the actual number of school shootings have gone down.”
The event is funded through Missouri’s State Emergency Management Agency known as SEMA and is Missouri P.O.S.T (Peace Officer Standards and Training) approved.
More information is available at http://training.dps.mo.gov/trainingwebsite.nsf.