Training a matter of life and death

September 12, 2013

Troup County deputies held its first “Active Shooter Training,” allowing them the ability to now respond to incidents involving a shooter targeting heavily populated areas, like a school setting.

Before this week, should a tragic incident like a school shooting occur, county schools would receive a response from the LaGrange Police Department and other nearby law enforcement agencies. Now they will be able to respond to and assist other territories.

“Part of my campaign was focused on the safety of our children,” said Sheriff James Woodruff, who brought on the training.

Inside the Cannon Street Elementary School this week, Harris County Sheriff’s Office’s Deputy T.C. Nixon and others from the HCSO instructed Troup County deputies on skills and techniques for responding an active shooter using various scenarios.

“We’re using a school, but you could get one in the courthouse, you could get one in a office,” said Nixon. “It just trains you on what to do.”

The deputy who arrives first to the scene is required to go in, even if alone, and to not wait on back up.

“You get there and you get in,” said Major Charles Nixon of Troup County Sheriff’s Office. “Every second you sit and wait on back up could be someone getting killed.”

Firecrackers were used to sound as gunshots as the responding deputy was instructed to follow the sound of the gunshots as quickly as possible to locate the shooter. As the deputy moved closer to the sound of the gunshots, victims ran past the deputy who is instructed to push past the victims to make way to the shooter. Some deputies acted as wounded victims lying in a hallway.

“They have to get their as fast as they can,” said Major Charles Nixon of the Troup County Sheriff’s Office. “Every shot heard is a life lost.”

After observing a deputy yell for the shooter to get on the ground, T.C Nixon instructed that once contact is made with the shooter to just “take him out.” Verbal commands are a no go in these types of tragedies when multiple people have been injured or killed.

“If you know he doesn’t care, don’t give him verbal commands,” said T.C Nixon.

“The main objective is to kill him,” said Charles Nixon. “Your job is to take that threat away because he’s already showing that he doesn’t care. As long as they’re standing there we shoot them, take out that threat.”

T.C deputies also learned apprehension techniques and how to handle their firearm during apprehension.

“If you’re gonna grab him, holster your gun. Never put your gun on the ground. Reload fast.” said T.C Nixon.

Non-lethal ammunition was used in the training.

Woodruff said he plans for deputies to train in active shooter response at least once a year. Sheriff’s personnel thanked the Troup County School System for allowing use of the abandoned school for training.