Cole County deputies train for nightmare shooter scenario

Saturday, March 9, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CST

RUSSELLVILLE — Pop. Pop. The unfamiliar, yet frightening sound echoed around a hallway corner. Seconds later a figure in camouflage overalls and a dark stocking cap runs around that corner.

Time passes — only seconds, but with adrenaline kicking in and the unknown growing wider.

Then, the call comes over the Cole County Sheriff's Department radio, during an active shooter simulation Saturday at Cole County R-I High School.

The scenario played out that the School Resource Officer was down by the armed intruder. After three-hours of classroom training and cognitive preparation, the sheriff's department was conducting a hands-on, First Officer Engage training.

The local department is believed to be the first in Missouri to formally embrace the individual training, which emphasizes rapid deployment of law enforcement.

At Russellville High School, a single deputy armed with compressed air pellets pursued the mock intruder, rather than waiting for a SWAT team or other back up.

"Every second you delay is potentially a higher body count," said Sheriff Greg White. "We're in the business to save lives."

The swifter response is contrary to tactical logic, White noted.

"We cannot have our citizens exposed to a killer, while deputies are outside waiting for backup," he said.

Not waiting for backup and having the first officer respond has been part of the department's standard operating procedure for nearly eight years. This training is taking that commitment to the next level, a press release said.

Although this scenario posed that the school resource officer already was down, Cole County schools, including Blair Oaks and Eugene, have such officers to create a law enforcement presence.

Like Joey Matherne, who posed as the intruder for the Saturday exercise, the school resource officers are expected to be competent and tactically sound, in addition to their other relationship-building and instructional duties, White said.

The training also emphasized the value of the Missouri Office of Homeland Security's ERIP (Emergency Response Information Portal) to assist responding law enforcement. Reserve Deputy Brad Spicer designed the program, which provides school details in advance for such an emergency.

Architectural barriers are the first line of defense against those who might do harm, White noted.

For example, each classroom door should have a deadbolt inside, which would at least delay an intruder.

"Lives are saved every second the intruder is slowed down," White said.

The department also works with schools to develop intruder drills, similar to those for tornado or fire threats.

Just as the training served as a "stress inoculation" to help officers keep their adrenaline and mind in check during a response, so the school drills help build resiliency in the students and teachers, Spicer said.

The department's commitment in active shooter response is based on priorities of life — innocent people first.

National statistics suggests one life could be lost to an armed intruder every 4.5 seconds.

This training will help deputies to respond as they've been trained and to be able to think through their best approach, if they were to be called to such a situation.

As law enforcement trains to increase response time, the responding officer's personal risk also increases.

Choosing to commit to engage an active shooter is a much different response than reacting to an immediate threat posed at him directly, Spicer pointed out.

"We're protectors," White said. "We step between predators and our loved ones — who can be the citizens we're sworn to defend.

"It's an awesome responsibility."

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Jeremy Calton March 9, 2013 | 4:04 p.m.

"Every second you delay is potentially a higher body count," said Sheriff Greg White. "We're in the business to save lives."

Yes, if ONLY there were a way we could get guns to crime scenes sooner than waiting for a cop--not even seconds but MINUTES sooner. Yey, that's ridiculous; how could we possibly get a gun to aid the victim at a crime even faster than the police can get there with their guns?

I mean, I can think of one way, but no, that's not possible, is it? It seems so simple. What if--now hear me out--what if we let each crime victim have their own gun?

In the case of our kids, we could *trust* the people we entrust to care for their healthy, safety, growth, and well-being to act on their behalf. I mean, the current plan is to have their teachers throw themselves in front of the children. That seems like a pretty insane plan to me.

I think the best thing is to continue to make them wait for a good 600 to 900 seconds before the first government-approved gun-holder enters the scene. I mean, obviously. People are going to die every second we delay, but if someone in the school has a gun with permission, the children would be at risk, right. Yet if there's a shooter in the school, then someone already has already brought a gun into the school *without* permission. Now that I think about it, laws seem to really only affect the people who don't care about the laws.

Someone remind me, is mass homicide illegal? Seems like we should be criminalizing that, if that makes everything we're afraid of disappear.

(Report Comment)
Jeremy Calton March 9, 2013 | 4:11 p.m.

It's frustrating feeling like I'm the only one who realizes that in these (and almost all other similar) kinds of situations, the victims die WAITING FOR SOMEONE WITH A GUN to come and save them.

Yet the knee-jerk solution is to take away guns from the law-abiding potential victims. (And turn everyone into a potential victim in the process.)

(Report Comment)
frank christian March 9, 2013 | 8:07 p.m.

Outstanding. Jeremy!

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle March 9, 2013 | 10:06 p.m.

Oh, such wonderful hero fantasies! In the meantime, here's some slightly more factual information about how guns are really used:

Over 50% - Suicide. And no, there is no "substitute" effect. Furthermore, most suicide attempts with firearms are successful; other methods, not so much.

Over 20% - Domestic Violence. So much for the "safety" of having a gun in your house. Every credible bit of research shows that having firearms in your house dramatically increases the probability you or someone in your family will get shot with one.

Another 15% - Prohibition related violence. Yeah, people mistakenly call this "drug" related violence, but the fact is all the violence is coming from state prohibition.

Around 10% - Random stranger violence

Under 5% - Accidents

And least of all - at just 1% or so - justified "self defense" killings. You know, the ones that everybody tries to convince you that's what guns are for?

Well, it would be nice if we could have that 1% "good" gun use, without the other 99% "bad" gun use. But that's not the way it works, in fact. The idea that just not enough good people have guns is an outright lie. There vast, vast majority of guns out there are, indeed, owned by "good guys" but somehow we end up with all that huge majority of "bad" use of guns anyway.

Not that anyone clinging to false ideology to the contrary would actually believe or listen, but those are still the objective facts of gun use in America.

(Report Comment)
frank christian March 9, 2013 | 11:40 p.m.

Jeremy wrote of the problem of violence that is occurring each day across our country and wrote to try to instill the will of survival,seemingly lost, into our people again.

You again, waste your time, with computer % crap about guns, that every legal gun owner knows has no meaning in regard to the ownership of a gun.

Why not make your time valuable and well spent. Write about the knowledge of a difference between right and wrong.
Write about the value of one life being as high as that of every other. Oh gosh! I'm writing like some Christian, religious fanatic. I'd better go to bed and try to get over this.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking March 10, 2013 | 6:44 a.m.

Derrick Fogle wrote:

"In the meantime, here's some slightly more factual information about how guns are really used:"

What you have to do to put this in perspective is express "bad" gun use as a percentage of the total guns out there. If you do that, then the odds of any one gun owner being shot with his own gun go down to a miniscule value.

About 90 people die in car accidents every day. But out of the 100+ million car trips that are taken every day, the odds of any one driver being killed are very small. It certainly hasn't spurred a call to make it more difficult or expensive to drive.

As a nation, we have tacitly declared that we accept a level of carnage to exercise a basic right (and driving, even thoughg it's a privilege, is considered by most to be as fundamental a right as any in the Bill of iIghts). All of the gun control bills out there currently are band-aids that don't really do much. People with high cap magazines can keep them. "Assault rifles" are used in perhaps a few hundred murders per year (out of tens of thousands). Background checks only screen legal gun owners. Etc.

If we really wnat to get rid of guns in this country, we have to ban ownership of all semi-automatic guns of any sort, track ammo purchases, and basically repeal the Second Amendment. There's no call for this. In the absence of such a call, we've pretty much decided to accept the status quo (which I'm not uncomfortable with). There's a lot more likely ways for me to die than being shot with my own gun.


(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith March 10, 2013 | 8:45 a.m.

Is anyone else growing tired of this?

Let's talk about something constructive. All semi-automatic and automatic weapons are not just firearms - they are also machines. Machines by definition have connected parts, and they can be rendered useless by removal of one key part.

If someone wants to collect these weapons, they can remove a critical part (a firing pin works VERY well). Put the removed part, tagged, in a safe (if you have one) or some other place away from the guns. You can cease worrying that little Billy will shoot his sister or the family dog.

The act of disassembling the weapon is in the military called "field stripping" it. I think I could still do that with an M-1 rifle and M-1 carbine; J. Karl probably can field strip a number of weapons, some of which post date my time in the military.

If a person can't perform the operation I'd question why he or she has these weapons.

What about burglarly? Well, if our burglar turns around and blindly sells the weapons to some bad-asses and they find the guns won't fire, the burglar may find himself in a really bad way. :)

I am in total agreement with Mark's comments. And if one's primary objective is simply home defense, a 12-gage pump action shotgun is a real winner! Why a pump and not an automatic? Less chance of a jam, and pumps can be operated either right-handed or left-handed.

(Report Comment)

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