The Colorado suspect who planned a shooting rampage that killed 12 people and injured dozens of others at a suburban movie theatre Friday caused people across the country to question their safety.
The LaGrange Police Department began its annual training for active shooter situations following Denver’s Columbine High School shooting in 1999.
“Active shooters don’t always hit schools,” Cpt. Dale Strickland said. “They sometimes hit businesses, small school buildings, malls and other places.”
LaGrange Police have used Cannon Street Elementary, Troup High School and LaGrange High School as active shooter training facilities in the past.
“It lets the officers see the floor plans of the schools,” he said.”We do a walk-through with each individual shift that would be responding.” “They’re most likely to be the ones that respond to the active shooters. They know they have to work as a team going in there.”
Traditionally, 911 would dispatch officers from the LaGrange Police Department, Troup County Sheriff’s Office and Georgia State Patrol to the scene of an active shooting.
Officers must immediately handle the crisis if there is shooting occurring when they arrive, such as in the case of the theatre incident. They cannot wait for a S.W.A.T. team to establish parameters as they traditionally would, Strickland said.
Reports said officers were delayed from going inside the teargas-filled theatre in Colorado while they waited for gas masks.
Gas masks, while standard equipment for the S.W.A.T. team, are not typically kept in patrol cars. To avoid damages from heat or cold temperatures, they are kept in an equipment room at the police station where they are accessed as needed.
LaGrange Police work closely with Carmike Cinemas staff, located at 201 Main Street, to ensure there is always an officer on duty during weekends.
“They inform us of movies that may draw larger crowds than usual,” Sgt. Marshall McCoy said. “They are committed to making it a safe place and we help them do that.”
Members of the LaGrange Police Department also participate in annual training for situations of barricaded gunman and hostage rescue.