Chat with the Chief
There has been a lot of talk about Active Shooter Prepardeness latetly. As a police officer, are you trained for active shooter preparedness and what can you say about the techniques that you are taught?
Yes. Detective Blanco is a certified ALERRT instructor, which stands for Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training. Without going into specifics of how law enforcement moves, anyone who's been through this program is taught the same way, so if we end up on an active shooter scene, this is the program we're going to use. If another agency shows up and they've been trained the same way, it's fluid because everybody knows the program and how to move throughout the building. There's no solid, 100 percent foolproof answer to active shooter response. What we do is we try to make our response very choreographed. We're taught that you go in, if you're first on the scene, if you're second on the scene, you're going to go find the shooter. We haven't had any of those around here fortunately, but we had one in Italy [Texas] which isn't too far away, so it's not as if that can’t happen here. The other downside to publicizing how we respond to things is, in all honesty, if you have a shooter at school, chances are that shooter is a student at that school or a staff member at that school who's going to know what we're doing. So we don't simply run drills in front of the staff or students.
Is your response to an active shooter situation one-size-fits-all or does it vary depending on where it is?
We typically structure our responses with each individual business and building. Farmer State Bank is different than Citizens. So God forbid something happen, we have an idea what Farmer's is going to do as far as their staff goes. Because when we walk in a room, the churches are arming themselves, so our concern is we have an active shooter call at a church, we roll in and we see someone shooting. We don't know, is that the shooter, or is that a member of the congregation? So there are some procedures that we have in place with the churches that helps us identify who's who. We try to scale it to each place and we can do that because we're a small town. We know almost everyone. We're all very familiar with the layouts of most of the buildings in town, so when we go in we typically don't have to go in blind.
Should an active shooter situation arise, what do you expect to happen? Who gets called first?
They will call 911 and we’re dispatched out of the Sheriff’s office, so we will get dispatched first because we're primary for any business within the city limits, understanding that the second, third, and fourth calls are separated by seconds. Now, there's no doubt in my mind, should we have that call, we will have more police in this town than we've ever had. We will have response from the Texas Highway Patrol, the game wardens, obviously city of Groesbeck, city of Mexia is coming, Limestone County Sheriff's Office. We're going to be raining in police. We had a chief's meeting yesterday of the local chiefs, mostly Limestone, but McLennan and Freestone too, and we talked about this very thing. So should something happen in Wortham, Groesbeck PD is rolling to Wortham. If something happens here, he's on his way, Teague's on its way. You don't get into a turf war when you have something like that because it's so large. However, there has to be some type of organization, there has to be a center and that center is us. We're quite capable. People do tend to think that the smaller the town, the less capable the officer, that's not true because that also requires us to know just about everybody, there's very little room to specialize in just one segment. We take it all very seriously, and that's what being this small allows us, is opportunity to take this very, very seriously. I hope that never happens here, I pray it never happens here. But if it does, there will be such a huge police and first responder presence, it will be unbelievable.
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