Deputies prepare for an ‘active shooter’

Published 1:39 pm Thursday, May 31, 2012

Deputy Derrick Bone participates in "active shooter" training Thursday at Verbena School.

Shane Mayfield with the Chilton County Sheriff’s Department hopes deputies never have to put the training they are receiving into practice.

But Mayfield knows it’s better to be prepared for a school shooting than to be sorry afterward.

“We hope it doesn’t happen, but we don’t want to have our heads stuck in the sand and then it does happen,” said Mayfield, the department’s chief deputy who is also overseeing the training along with Steve Tate.

More than 25 deputies are participating in “active shooter” training Thursday and Friday. About half of the department trained Thursday, and the other half will take its turn Friday.

The “refresher course,” as Mayfield calls it, is held quarterly. The location is changed each time in order to present participants with new challenges. This time, it’s being held at Verbena School.

The course begins with a classroom session. A brief history of active shooters is covered, and deputies are prepared mentally for what dealing with such a shooting could entail.

“Most of us are guys with children, kids in school,” Mayfield said. “We need to be prepared mentally. If it comes to a situation where you have to use deadly force on a junior high student–you have to know that it’s the right thing to do and that you’re saving other people’s lives.”

After the classroom session, deputies went outside to practice basic maneuvers and formations that would be used when approaching a school or business with a shooter inside.

Mayfield said it’s important for law enforcement to be familiar with the same techniques.

“If someone is shooting people inside, there’s no time to sit on the front porch and come up with a plan,” he said.

Finally, training participants went inside the school for more practice, such as going room-to-room in search of a shooter.