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Thursday, Apr 26, 2018
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Pasco officers train for school shootings

Sheriff’s deputies practicing how they would respond to a shooter on a school campus this week picked up tips for success, as well as a reminder of one clear indicator that something went awry.

“The wrong way to do this is to get shot,” said Cpl. Marc Erickson, one of the trainers for the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office.

The sheriff’s office has been holding active-shooter training since June 9 and will continue through Aug. 7, said Sgt. Toni Roach. School resource officers train every year, but training is held only periodically for other sheriff’s employees. More than 500 officers are expected to go through the training this summer, she said.

On Wednesday at Fivay High School, 16 law enforcement officers and six correction officers, all new to the sheriff’s office, were involved, sitting in on classroom lessons, then running through scenarios that included victims screaming for help and a showdown with a bad guy.

“It’s as realistic as we can make it,” said Lt. James R. Law of the sheriff’s school resource section.

Linda Cobbe, spokeswoman for the school district, said the district and the sheriff’s office have a good working relationship, and parents likely will appreciate that officers are getting the training, even as everyone hopes it never will be put to use.

“I think it will give them a level of comfort to know they practiced this,” Cobbe said.

The deputies faced three scenarios and took turns going through them, trailed by a trainer who later critiqued the performances. In one scenario, the shooter was in a restroom with a hostage. In another, he was in a classroom. The third scenario combined elements of the first two.

“We just get more in-depth with each one,” Sgt. Amy Diel said.

Erickson and Cpl. Richard Bynum also taught the officers techniques for checking out rooms in teams of two or three. It’s important not to hesitate, even though hesitating comes naturally, Bynum said.

“It’s against human nature to go into a room when there are shots being fired,” he said. “But that’s what we signed up for.”

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