Police prepare for school shooting during drill


Reporter - Jason Hibbs
Photojoournalist - David Dycus

PADUCAH, Ky. - Intense training is taking place at one local school, and police say the life-saving skills they're learning can be used throughout the city.

When we think of shootings, we probably think of tragedies like the one at Heath High School, or more recently, Sandy Hook Elementary.  In fact, that's what made Paducah Police realize they needed training, nut a sergeant tells Local 6 the reality is it could happen anywhere at any time.

Police hope equipping patrol officers with SWAT team tactics and letting them practice in a building the size of Paducah Tilghman will help save lives if tragedy strikes our community, again.

"These are the days and times we live in.  It's reality now," Paducah Tilghman Principal Art Davis said.

Davis is relieved to learn every Paducah Police Officer will get acquainted with the building.

"It's important for them to be familiar with the building and this is a very large building with a lot of rooms and large stairwells," Davis said.

It's a tactical nightmare for police.  That's why they're practicing over and over again, and conducting a briefing after every mock emergency. After all, seconds matter.

"In an active shooter scenario, every seven to nine seconds somebody's killed, so time is very crucial to us," Sergeant Rob Hefner said.

Officer confidence is important too, and with every exercise, that confidence grows.

"The tactics they were taught Thursday have only been taught to SWAT in times past.  Now we're passing these tactics on to the guys who are going to be responding," Hefner said.

When school starts back this fall, these officers will be ready to respond.

The training has been going on for two weeks and will continue at Paducah Tilghman throughout the month. Every Paducah Police Officer will go through the course. Hefner said the local officers who are leading these exercises were trained by F.B.I. and San Antonio SWAT officers.

Officers were firing shots inside the school, but they were using 'simunition,' a non lethal, reduced energy ammo used specifically for training exercises.

Principal Davis said the job of teachers and police are very different.  He wants teachers to get students to a safe place. At Tilghman, the walls are concrete, so he said most closed door classrooms should shield students in an active shooter situation.

Principal Davis also says he already has strong, secure measures in place including security cameras and metal detectors. He says he'd like for officers to return to his school for more training next summer.