The Daviess County Public Schools district and Daviess County Sheriff’s Office teamed up for the fifth year to host active shooter response training sessions to DCPS staff members Tuesday. Approximately 100 DCPS staff members participated over two sessions held at Meadow Lands Elementary School.
“Everything we do is extremely important, particularly when it involves children,” said DCPS Superintendent Matt Robbins. “But safety is the top ‘Kids First’ priority.”
Robbins said the partnership between DCPS and DCSO was observed by Senator Max Wise, sponsor of SB 1, the school safety bill, two years ago.
“He was so impressed by that, that the fingerprint of SB 1 is based on the partnership between DCPS and the Sheriff’s Office,” Robbins said.
The training was presented by Gen. Allen Youngman, a special deputy to the Daviess County Sheriff’s Office, serving as a firearms instructor and liaison to area schools for emergency preparedness.
Youngman, who has studied active shootings throughout the U.S., provided DCPS staff with data he has gathered, common factors of those events and practices that can be put in place in the event a shooting were to take place.
“These protocols are not set in concrete,” he said. “They evolve as we learn from tragic events across the country.”
Youngman said he has found that active shooters plan in advance, have the goal to kill as many people as possible, will continue until stopped, are not interested in surviving, typically act alone and are often from small towns. While law enforcement has not been able to pinpoint a specific profile of a likely student attacker, Youngman said 71 percent reported some form of perceived bullying.
While many people believe active shooting situations to be on the rise or occur often, Youngman said this isn’t the case. He said that in the last 30 years 88 people were killed in nine incidents of K-12 mass shootings.
Sheriff Keith Cain also addressed DCPS employees, recalling a situation he faced early in his career as major with DCSO, when an administrative assistant at Daviess County High School reported a student with a gun on campus. Cain said DCSO not only found a loaded gun in the student’s locker, but also multiples rounds of ammunition and a notebook detailing plans to open fire during an assembly.
“Active shootings are relatively rare, but they can happen and they can happen here,” Cain said. “It almost did happen right here in our own community.”
After Youngman’s presentation, he and DCSO provided a specialized role-playing simulation, that focused on best practices that have been proven to save lives in the event of an active shooter situation.
DCPS employees were divided into classrooms at Meadow Lands and a “teacher” was elected in each group. Instructed to pretend they were in a typical classroom setting of a teacher and his or her students, trainees were caught by surprise when a gunman, impersonated by a DCSO deputy, opened fire in the school’s hallway. While the gunshots were merely blanks, the sound was authentic, evoking fear and emotion from the trainees inside the classrooms.
The simulation allowed staff members to implement the lessons Youngman presented, like utilizing the blind corner of the classroom, where a gunman cannot see from the doorway. Youngman said until the mass shooting at Columbine High School in 1999, the standard procedure was for students to get under desks.
Emotions ran high after the simulation, with several trainees visibly shaken at the realistic situation. DCPS had crisis counselors on hand to speak with staff members that wished to talk about their experience.
Since the first year it was offered, nearly 2,000 DCPS staff have participated in these sessions.