0

Sheriff's Office trains to respond to school shootings

Officers with the Rockdale County Sheriff's Office conduct tactical training exercises in a hallway at Gen. Ray David Middle School Tuesday. Various paper targets were used in the training, including those depicting law enforcement officers in order to train responders to remain focused on the appropriate target in a school-shooting scenario. Some 40 officers with the RCSO participated in the day-long training. Special Photo

Officers with the Rockdale County Sheriff's Office conduct tactical training exercises in a hallway at Gen. Ray David Middle School Tuesday. Various paper targets were used in the training, including those depicting law enforcement officers in order to train responders to remain focused on the appropriate target in a school-shooting scenario. Some 40 officers with the RCSO participated in the day-long training. Special Photo

CONYERS — The Rockdale County Sheriff’s Office joined with Rockdale County Public Schools in a training effort Tuesday designed to improve school safety.

In daylong training exercises at Gen. Ray Davis Middle School, deputies and investigators with the Sheriff’s Office participated in classroom sessions and tactical exercises focusing on a school shooting. Rockdale schools are closed this week for winter break.

Georgia Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge Wayne Smith conducted the classroom instruction, providing an overview of mass shootings and case studies of historical incidents, including several school shootings.

RCSO personnel then participated in tactical drills in the school hallways and classrooms to simulate various active shooter scenarios.

“This was a great opportunity for us to focus on the safety of Rockdale County students and teachers in the event of a school shooting,” Sheriff Eric Levett said. “We hope that we never have to use this sort of training, but we are going to ensure that our deputies have the knowledge and tactical skills to respond to a worst-case scenario.”

Sgt. Scott Santillie led the tactical training. According to Investigator Michael Camp, the training included setting up various paper targets inside the school — some of which depicted law enforcement officers — in order to train deputies to remain alert and focused on the appropriate target.

“That emphasized that when you are responding to something that chaotic (as a school shooting), there could already be someone from law enforcement there,” said Camp, noting that multiple agencies will be called to respond to an incident of that magnitude.

Officers used Simunition during the exercises, which is a non-lethal training ammunition.

Forty deputies and investigators from the RCSO participated in the training. Participants came from various divisions and units including the Criminal Investigations Division, Uniform Patrol Division and the Warrants and Civil Division. The Community-Oriented Policing Unit, which includes all school resource officers, was also included in the training. Several Rockdale County school system administrators were on hand to observe several of the scenarios.

During training, the Rockdale County Sheriff’s Office Mobile Command Vehicle was set up in the school parking lot. The Mobile Command Vehicle team members were able to practice the setup/breakdown process and ensure functionality of the equipment onboard as if they were responding to an actual emergency deployment.