Marcus Larson / News-Register##McMinnville police officers conduct an “active shooter” training at Patton Middle School last Monday. The McMinnville School District’s
safety officer, former Sheriff Jack Crabtree, led the exercise.
Marcus Larson / News-Register##McMinnville police officers conduct an “active shooter” training at Patton Middle School last Monday. The McMinnville School District’s safety officer, former Sheriff Jack Crabtree, led the exercise.
Marcus Larson / News-Register##Sheriff’s deputies corner and handcuff the second shooter, played by Police Cheif Matt Scales, inside the Patton Middle School gym. Police conducted a training Monday simulating a shooter at the school.
Marcus Larson / News-Register##Sheriff’s deputies corner and handcuff the second shooter, played by Police Cheif Matt Scales, inside the Patton Middle School gym. Police conducted a training Monday simulating a shooter at the school.
By Starla Pointer • Staff Writer • 

Training for the worst

Police conduct shooter training at Patton Middle School

Most important, think through possibilities before an incident erupts. Plan what you will do and where you will go ahead of time, and practice carrying that plan out.

That’s the advice police gave Monday during an all-day “active shooter” drill held at McMinnville’s Patton Middle School. It was led by former Yamhill County Sheriff Jack Crabtree, now safety officer for the school district, and Capt. Dennis Marks of the McMinnville police.

The district has partnered with local law enforcement agencies on planning its response to threats and breeches of security.

But Crabtree said those plans need to be constantly practiced, reviewed and refined. That way, if something does happen, school and police personnel can react in rapid, smooth and coordinated fashion.

“Planning makes it easier to react to the unexpected,” Superintendent Maryalice Russell told about 150 school staff members. “Training makes us better prepared to handle whatever comes our way.”

If there’s a crisis, school personnel need to know how to move students out of danger and communicate their whereabouts. They have planned evacuation routes and meeting points, but they need to develop of alternatives in case those options aren’t available, police said.

Police and school officials talked about how they can make sure students get reunited with their parents.

Depending on the nature of the crisis, they may move students to a location far from campus. In that case, they’ll need to communicate the location to parents quickly and keep parents from swarming the schoolgrounds, which could interfere with police and possibly put parents in harm’s way.

School officials also discussed dealing with parents who are calling for information and news media that are surrounding a campus with cameras.

Monday’s training included several role-playing scenarios.

In one, staff members pretended to be students having a class session in the library. When they heard the simulated sound of gunfire in the hallway, they had to decide what to do.

In one scene, they ran for the door, checking the hall first to make sure the gunman wasn’t present, then escaped from the building. In another, they barricaded the door in an attempt to keep the gunman out. When he managed to get in anyway, they shouted and threw books and tried other ways of distracting him.

Any distraction will help throw an intruder off his mission, said Lt. Dave Okada, one of the main speakers at the training.

He suggested looking around for what’s available in your area — books, staplers, chairs, fire extinguishers and anything else that can be thrown at the intruder.

“Then take active counter measures,” he advised. “The best thing is to aim for the head,” he said.

Okada noted incidents involving violent intruders, such as school shooters, are actually quite rare. But he said such shooters have often engaged in meticulous planning beforehand, giving them a big advantage if responders haven’t also laid plans in advance.

Such incidents are preventable, he said, provided “we can recognize the warning signs.” When that doesn’t suffice, he said, it’s vital that students and staff be aware of their surroundings, have escape routes available and be prepared to react effectively.

In another set of scenarios, staff members portrayed students and teachers in the halls and classrooms of the school. They had to determine how to escape or hide while two officers — Police Chief Matt Scales and former school resource officer Doug Cummins — played intruders shooting dummy rounds in the halls. Other officers practiced searching for and ultimately subduing the criminals.

The day also included a discussion of a real threat that happened at Grandhaven Elementary School last May.

Grandhaven was one of many schools that received robo calls that indicated a person planned to kill students. Principal Margie Johnson immediately put the school in lockdown mode and called police and district officials.

Teachers locked their doors and windows and continued teaching while officers searched the building inside and out. District office staff set up a communications plan for talking with parents and the media.

After police declared the site free of intruders, children were released to their parents without incident. It was an example of the district’s plan being followed and working smoothly, Russell said.

“We learned from the Grandhaven incident,” the superintendent said. “The staff and police were incredible in their response.”

Comments

Joel2828

While I am glad to know that our police force is practicing for this horrible scenario, I am stunned at the poor judgement demonstrated by allowing the NR to photograph it and put it on the front page of the paper.
Bad call!! At the very least, it is extremely unsettling for parents and children to see the hallways of their beloved school being used as a place for police to run around brandishing military weapons at each other. At the very worst it may well be just what is needed to push some mentally deranged teen over the edge and give him the impression that he can take up the perceived challenge this throws down and that he too will be on the front page of the NR if he snaps and does the unthinkable.
Come on guys, use some judgement! Yes, by all means please do rehearse and plan for the unthinkable. And maybe even tell us about it through the NR. But allowing these images to be taken and printed goes too far and shows very, very bad judgement. I'll bet no one involved in the decision to publish these photo's has a child that attends Patton.

TTT

Throw a stapler at the person? Seriously?

That's worse than bringing a knife to a gun fight.

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