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Preparing for an active shooter

Police train at Prettyboy Elementary School
Posted at 2:14 PM, Jun 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-22 18:37:10-04

The students have emptied out of Prettyboy Elementary School for the summer, but the lessons continue on how to best protect them from an active shooter.

"Now, as soon as the shooting occurs, the first officers that get there will automatically go in and move to the threat," said Cpl. John Haddaway of the Baltimore County Police Department.
    
84 school resource officers serve as the first line of defense in the high schools and middle schools, but with 174 schools in Baltimore County, in many instances, patrol officers would be the first to arrive at an elementary school under fire.

"That's why you do this type of training so that way it's instinctive,” said Haddaway, “If you encounter that type of situation, you know how to react, you know what to do and you know what type of resources to call in to assist you."
    
Tragically, Baltimore County police got a crash course almost six years ago, when a student opened fire in a cafeteria at Perry Hall High School.

"All of the sudden, I hear 'Pop!' like a gun going off,” Freshman Shawnkia McCallum told us following the shooting, “So everyone started ducking under the chairs and tables and stuff."
    
Officers must not only be ready to engage the shooter but also for the chaos surrounding such an incident.

"That's why we do the real-world training,” said Haddaway, “We have role players who are dressed down to simulate victims and teachers and that kind of stuff, and that way you're not faced with police officers in uniform necessarily.  You kind of know what you're going to expect in a real-world situation with people running towards you, having people asking you questions that are really scared, that sort of thing, so you'll know how to deal with them not only and the threat as well."
    
In addition to training the officers, the department also prepares schools, businesses and places of worship for active shooting situations mindful that would-be victims may have to protect themselves before help arrives.

"The average law enforcement response time nationwide is three minutes,” said Haddaway, “and we let the civilians know, 'You may have to make life and death decisions immediately while the police are still responding."