Greene Publishing, Inc.
These days, we hear so much about a shooter or two entering a school and shooting, injuring and killing students, teachers and staff, when we flip on the news.
Imagine the adrenaline rush experienced by law enforcement, the screams of pain from the injured and the fear in the hearts of those at the school, who are at risk of being a target of a shooter.
That was the scenario at Jefferson County Middle High School on March 14. Retired Leon County Sheriff’s Office Major Haywood Walker of Prevention and Response Solutions (PRSI) of Tallahassee ran the all-day training course for Sheriff’s office deputies and school administrators.
The training is supplied by a federal grant from Pat Thomas Law Enforcement Academy. The grant is to provide training, and prepare rural counties for reacting to active shooters in schools.
The training was hosted for Madison, Jefferson and Taylor counties.
Walker stated that there were over 50 people in the class all together.
The program inner phases school administrators and law enforcement to work together in the situation.
“We teach prevention, response and recovery,” said Walker, who served in the training as the officer in command during the scenario, giving the orders to the other law enforcement personnel, who carried out those orders. “There is a program that we go through with the school administrators, and about activating the school plan in case of a shooter. There were table top exercises, and law enforcement had to respond to the shooter in the school,” he added.
“We had role players in the school with air assault weapons (simulated guns and ammunition). The job of the officers was to go in, sweep the campus, find and identify the shooter, and resolve the situation,” Walker said. “Some administrators were also role playing, as injured persons on the scene. They made it really realistic and did a great job. We make it as realistic as possible to get the officer’s adrenaline going, so they really know the feel of going into this kind of a situation.”
Walker explained that the different counties are not pitted in a competition against each other during the training. “They work together as team. We give them the scenario and do critiques with them on their performance. It was quite obvious that they have trained in the past on this. They work together very well.”
“The law enforcement side has mandatory training anyway, they are taught how to move, identify, and deal with a threat,” he added.
“Jefferson County School Superintendent, Al Cooksey, and the Jefferson County school district hosted the training, and we give them kudos, as well as Pat Thomas Law Enforcement Academy,” said Walker. He added that training would be hosted in Dixie County for Dixie, Lafayette and Gilchrist counties on April 21, and in Franklin County for Franklin, Liberty and Calhoun counties.
“When we get finished, that’ll be nine school districts, and nine sheriff’s departments trained for active shooters,” said Walker. Following the course, the students critique the instructor. “We got good reviews,” said Walker.
Speaking on the course, Madison County Sheriff Ben Stewart said, “We were invited and wanted to participate. My deputies reported that it was very good training. We did the same training three years earlier, but they liked this course the best because it included the faculty, who told how they thought they would respond, what they were thinking, and therefore making the course much more productive. My guys said it was very realistic, and they were very impressed. We would recommend it.”
Jefferson County Sheriff David Hobbs added, “We learned a lot. The simulation was very realistic. There was a lot going on, but you have to go in, know the layout, and neutralize the situation. If it comes to a situation like that, we’re not going to lock it down and wait for someone else. We are going in.”
PRSI Active Shooter trainer, Hayward Walker, retired as Major from the Leon County Sheriff’s Office with 34 years experience as a law enforcement officer. Educated in Leon County, he currently holds a degree in Criminal Justice Technology from Tallahassee Community College. Law Enforcement experience includes the areas of uniform patrol, warrants, bailiff, school resource, property crime, violent crime, vice, bomb team, hostage negotiation, homeland security, and special operations and training. He has 28 years experience serving as a Tactical Operator and SWAT Commander.
In addition to specialized training, he has experience in response to terrorism and suicide bombers. Major Walker has received training in Israel on public and school safety, port security, airport security and dignitary protection. He has managed and been involved in crisis situations including homicides, manhunts, barricaded subjects, hostage incidents, officer rescue and emergencies due to natural disasters. Major Walker has served on the Executive Board of the North Florida Domestic Security Task Force, and has received awards from Veterans of Foreign Wars, Officer of the Year and the Law Enforcement Distinguished Career Service Award.
According to PRSI’s website, in reference to the Active Shooter training, “Practical response in real time is the central lesson in PRSI’s Active Shooter training course. Students who complete our Active Shooter training will have a flexible and effective response to the sudden emergence of armed individuals in school, mall, or other public settings. PRSI’s Active Shooter course instructors have successfully responded to active threat events. Participants will learn to plan, command, participate, and resolve critical threats, whether the threat is a lone gunman, a criminal event turned standoff, or the armed occupation of a public facility. Scenarios, strategy, and tactics taught are all derived from real-life experience, and meets the highest training standards.”