CLARK COUNTY, Ind. — Kids are back to school in unincorporated Clark County this week, but before they returned, the Clark County Sheriff’s Office used their hallways and classrooms as training grounds.
The entire force of about 70 deputies were required to take part in the week-long training, about two weeks ahead of the first day of school at Riverside Elementary School.
There, groups learned potentially life-saving lessons to respond to an active school shooter.
Going down hallways solo or in teams of two or three, checking corners, and then entering classrooms, deputies trained to swiftly move towards one goal…to “stop the threat,” Deputy Victoria Morgan said.
That’s the mission first and foremost, even in the face of fire and even if students, teachers or officers were down and injured.
“If we stopped to give medical attention to any child or teacher that was harmed, potentially more children or teachers could get harmed during the time that we take to stop to do so,” Morgan said. “So our main goal is to stop the threat immediately.”
The meticulous training coincidentally happened when hallway video of the deadly mass school shooting in Uvalde, TX got leaked.
That video shows how well over an hour passed before police finally breached a classroom to confront the shooter and kill him, despite 376 police officers arriving on scene.
“There’s only going to be two outcomes when we get here, either I die or he dies,” Chief Deputy Scottie Maples said. “We’re not going to stop until we get to that outcome.”
When asked if that’s the standard for law enforcement in general since Columbine, Sandy Hook, Parkland and now Uvalde, Maples responded, “It’s the standard for the Clark County Sheriff’s Office, I can tell you that.”
Maples says anytime there is a mass school shooting, his department tries to learn from that, including reviewing the hallway video from Uvalde.
“There was quite a bit of information that we were able to look at and say, you know, maybe we want to go a different path when we show up,” Maples said. “We will not retreat, we’re there to eliminate the threat, keep kids safe.”
That’s the pledge to parents with kids in school.
Morgan, a mother herself, says she would not hesitate, especially after this specialized training.
“I would tell parents, with me being a parent, I would do everything it takes even if my life depends on it to make sure that their children are safe,” she said.
The Clark County Sheriff’s Office knows timing is everything in responding to mass shootings.
That’s why they feel it’s crucial to now have a School Resource Officer (SRO) on-site throughout the day at all seven schools in Clark County.