School shooting drills: As common as fire drills? - FOX 13 News

School shooting drills: As common as fire drills?

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Active shooter training. Photo courtesy TPD. Active shooter training. Photo courtesy TPD.
TAMPA (FOX 13) -

Hillsborough County School Board members watched with tears in their eyes. As the video went on, goosebumps ran up their arms.

"We live in a different world," remarked member Cindy Stuart.

Tampa Police Officer Jared Douds showed them a video that law enforcement officers must watch as part of training for active shooter scenarios. It depicted pictures of scenes from Columbine in 1999, Virginia Tech in 2007, and Sandy Hook in 2012.

It was a workshop with TPD, the Hillsborough Sheriff's Office, and the school board, centering on school safety.

For months, the district has been trying to determine if schools in our area are as secure as they can be.

Officer Douds gave them some startling information. "We're seeing a rise in the number of victims from these school shootings."

He told the board, "These folks are studying each other and learning from one another…They are trying to one-up each other."

The workshop wasn't intended to scare anyone, but to show these shootings can happen anywhere. Tampa police say it's also a good reminder that we can't dig our heads in the sand and hope it doesn't happen.

"We need to have a rapid response. We also need to make sure our teachers, administrators and students know what to do if a shooter is on campus."

But the idea of active shooter drill in schools has some nervous. School Board member Cindy Stuart doesn't want to scare kids.

"I have children in public school and I don't want my elementary-aged student to come home saying, 'Oh, we pretended a man with a gun was on the playground.'"

But she also knows we need to be as prepared as schools are in the case of a fire. Fire drills are routinely done on campuses.

Officer Douds says most active shooter scenarios last seven to 12 minutes. That's a narrow window that law enforcement has to respond and stop an attack.

Candy Olson said it's a horrible possibility. She wants drills at schools but is not sure how they should be handled. She, too, does not want to scare the students.

"But I think it's important to train everyone -- custodians, lunchroom workers, teachers, administrators -- and the students," said Olson. "We need to ensure they know what to look for and to plan where they could hide or run."

There was also a suggestion that more mental health counselors are needed in schools. The hope is, they could spot a student with issues, before they act out on their rage.

The school board will take this information and will have another workshop on school security next week.

They eventually plan to vote on new actions they hope to take.

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