Italy — With school shootings posing a serious threat to students and faculty across the nation at all levels of education, the Italy Police Department conducted Response To Active Shooter Training – School Based exercises this past Saturday inside Italy High School as well as Stafford Elementary earlier in the day.
Italy Police Chief Diron Hill recruited several current and past Italy Gladiator football players to assist in the training exercises who acted as gunman, hostages and injured students depending on the scenario. Participating alongside law enforcement officers were Cody Boyd, Zain Byers, Kyle Fortenberry, Colin Newman, Shad Newman, and 2013 graduate Chase Hamilton.
Besides Chief Hill, Italy Police Officers who participated in the Response To Active Shooter Training – School Based exercises were Firearms Instructor Eric Tolliver, Officer Daniel Pitts, Officer Mike Stevens. Officer Pedro Gonzalez, Officer Shawn Martin, Officer Nick Moore and Officer Shelbee Landon. Volunteer Chad Raney assisted officers during the training scenarios as well.
Officer Eric Tolliver monitored the training sessions by readying the protective armor and specially modified paintball guns that shot somewhat soft, but still dangerous velcro bullets. Officer Tolliver also concluded each high-intensity scenario with a recap from his point of view as well as allowing the participants to give their takes on the the action that had previously unfolded. Italy Firefighter Brad Chambers helped Officer Tolliver keep everyone safe during the simulations and bravely served as a human marker designating endpoints to go no farther.
Although the down time was relaxed, once the scenarios were underway the atmosphere would quickly change as the officers, working in clusters of three and sometimes four, began their search of the building with guns drawn.
The officers encountered panicked and injured victims, were subject to gunfire and even encountered pretend bombs hurled in their direction. The training scenarios helped pinpoint areas that needed improvement but, overall, the officers handled the situations calm, cool and as a collective group. As far as the students were concerned, pre-rehearsed acting lines and directions often alluded them when confronted by the focused officers.
Chief Hill wishes to thank Italy ISD Superintendent Barry Bassett, Italy HS Principal Lee Joffre and the Italy ISD School Board for allowing the department use of the facility in order to conduct the training sessions. Special thanks to AD/HFC Charles Tindol and the students representing the Italy Athletic Department for their assistance and commitment to help keep their school, the faculty and their fellow students safe.