Officers get terroist training

Published 11:51 pm Saturday, May 16, 2009

Nine officers from Pearl River County and surrounding areas were trained on how to handle the unwelcome situation of a shooter, such as at a school or place of employment.

Friday nine officers, two from Picayune Police Department and two from Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department included, participated in two days worth of training that will protect them in those situations. Officers from the Hattiesburg Police Department and the Lamar County School District also participated. Don Criswell, Mississippi Department of Education School Safety Specialist, said the training involves not only class like instruction on the first day, but also hands-on scenario runs on the second day. The officers are trained to handle 12 different scenarios, such as terrorist activity, disgruntled employees and school shootings. Scenarios are run through a mock incident using a facility, such as in Thursday and Friday’s training Pearl River County School District’s recently purchased St. Michael’s campus. During the training officers use paint ball type rounds and wear protective gear on their bodies and faces as they run each scenario.

A scenario ran Friday for the Picayune Item, using unloaded weapons, had a team handling an incident where an employee’s spouse infiltrated his workplace and started shooting people, particularly the mistress. As the group ran the scenario the officers searched each room, guns drawn until the “suspect” was found and taken into custody.

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After each scenario a trainer gives each team an assessment of how they performed, Criswell said.

The program, called Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training, was sponsored by both the Department of Education and the Department of Homeland Security, Criswell said. A variety of every kind of local law enforcement agency sends officers to receive the training when it is offered, including Wildlife and Fisheries, campus security, police departments, Sheriff Departments and Highway Patrol. That broad departmental training ensures that no matter which agency responds to an incident first, a team can be formed to handle it, Criswell said.

Criswell said he appreciates the cooperation of the Pearl River County School District displayed by allowing use of the empty campus and the assistance of their campus police department.