Schools And Law Enforcement React To Nationwide Shootings

Grievous school and church shootings have held news spotlights in the very recent past. And, the additional August shootings in El Paso, Dayton and Philadelphia have the public and law enforcement on high alert for further threats to our safety.
Local law enforcement and other public servants are involved in many aspects of preparedness for incidents of mass casualties. They work with school officials to hold active shooter response training and exercises, as well as provide their own staff continuous training enabling them to react quickly and effectively to attacks on public safety.
Sheriff Eric Knox reported that his office has been training for shooter issues since he has been in office (January 2017.) He said that Mark Grenoble, now retired Crisis Negotiator and Operations Manager at the 911 Center, wrote an active shooter plan that previous Sheriff Rick Fajen installed in laptop computers. Sheriff Knox retrieved it, tested it and practiced it. The first active shooter training evolved at the prompting of the Warsaw/Lincoln Ambulance and its administrator, Nathan Burton, who has been the driving force behind it, making it an active exercise at Warsaw Schools last year. This particular plan involves all of the public service agencies including the Health Department, EMS, Dispatch, Sheriff’s Office, police stations in each city, Highway Patrol, and Warsaw/Lincoln Ambulance. They all play a vital role in this training becoming a reality. It is offered to the Lincoln School District this year and will be carried out in Cole Camp next school year. During years when a school district is not scheduled for the county-wide exercise, it will have other types of active shooter response training or drills.
“The exercise is a joint effort to work together with other agencies, practice what is already in place, and see how we operate together to handle a multi-casualty situation,” said Burton, director of this year’s exercise. “The faculty and staff of each school participating in this exercise/drill take the part of faculty and students involved in various scenarios. It is an eye-opening experience for a lot of the schools, because they do not see as much of these situations as we do. For a long time there was no such training in the schools.”
Burton said that this year’s planning for the exercise began in March 2019. He said he understands that many businesses in the county also do their own in-house training for shooting scenarios.
Warsaw School District held its own version of active shooter response training this year. Dr. Shawn Poyser, Superintendent, said that Sgt. Grant Johnson of the Warsaw Police Department provided an hour of training for faculty and staff, demonstrating some emergency procedures such as using a tourniquet and treating wounds. Dr. Poyser said that the faculty and staff are really the first responders at a school if a serious situation occurs. David Fajen, the Warsaw School Resource Officer, also provided a couple of hours training on possible scenarios that could happen during a school shooting. Fajen is also doing training at individual schools.
Lincoln School District Superintendent, Kevin Smith, reported that his district instituted lock-down procedures last school year and thought there might be repercussions from parents. However, he said they were very accepting of the procedure, and the district is continuing to update security devices such as cameras on campus.
Cole Camp School District Superintendent, Tim Roling, said that his district has an active shooter response workshop every year for faculty and staff, with the Sheriff’s Office performing the training this year.
In addition to school exercises, the Sheriff’s Office has improved its weaponry including AR15s that have just come in. All deputies also have new bullet-proof vests, an improvement over the past couple of years when only some deputies had vests, and they were in disrepair. Sheriff Knox has offered events for churches and the public to inform them of ways to protect themselves.
“When I was asked to speak to the Republican Ladies, one of the members asked me how they could be safe,” said Sheriff Knox. “I said that you won’t like what I am going to say, but each person should get Concealed Carry Permit Weapon (CCW) training and carry a weapon on his or her person. The truth is that if someone finds themselves in an active shooter situation in the county, deputies may not be able to arrive at the site in time to prevent harm.  Residents may have to depend on themselves for immediate protection. You wear a seat belt to protect yourself in a car, and can exercise your duty to protect yourself and your family from active shooters by being trained and armed.”
Sheriff Knox said that the sheriff has the ultimate law enforcement power in a county, and is the only constitutional law enforcement in the country. But, he said, without citizens to back up this elected official, there will be no power.
Warsaw Police Chief, Jason Wenberg was contacted and asked if there were any new protocols being initiated in response to the latest national shootings. He talked about the involvement of his officers in the school exercises, each year, and said that training in the department evolves to match current needs. Wenberg was asked what someone should if a shooter appeared on Main Street, and he said to stay inside and call 911.