White County law enforcement officials have been working closely with school administrators here on revamping the response to and tactics to be used in the event of an armed intruder on school property.
Just like officials had to rethink their response to terrorists on hijacked aircraft in the wake of the attacks on New York City and Washington D.C. in 2001, school and law enforcement officials have also rethought their response to school shooting incidents in the wake of the Columbine High School shootings in Colorado in 1999.
Prior to 2001, terror attacks on planes normally occurred when hijackers would demand fuel and a destination to escape political persecution or bring awareness to their cause. Law enforcement took a standoff and wait attitude, bringing in negotiators to try and solve the situation without bloodshed.
Law enforcement thought much the same way about armed intruders in schools and would surround the facility and attempt to establish contact with the armed person and negotiate a hopefully peaceful solution.
What 2001 brought about was a change in tactics on the part of the hijackers when there was no opportunity for negotiation due to their willingness to die to carry out their mission.
The federal government hesitated on shooting down the hijacked airliners. In the future, there will be no hesitation.
The Columbine shootings were not the first of their kind in 1999, but it was the first to receive widespread national attention, complete with video from the scene that left people asking law enforcement why they didn't go inside and try to stop the gunmen.
White County law enforcement personnel had known they would have to aggressively respond to a school shooting in the wake of Columbine, but the mass shooting in Connecticut last year has brought school and law enforcement officials together to formulate a more comprehensive plan.
Called "active shooter scenarios," these new training programs utilized by law enforcement and schools to address that question. No longer do law enforcement personnel stand by while dozens are massacred inside a school.
Now, school officials and law enforcement personnel work together during training to better prepare for such an eventuality. Ask any police officer or sheriff's deputy in this area and they will tell you the likelihood of such an occurrence here is miniscule, but too many lives are at stake to not have a plan in place to deal with such a happenstance should it occur here.
Illinois State Police joined local law enforcement personnel from the White County Sheriff's Office, Carmi Police Department, Crossville Police Department, Enfield Police Department, Norris City Police Department and Grayville Police Department in February at the Carmi-White County Middle School on Main Street in Carmi for active shooter scenario training that involved intense tactics and weapons training.
This event followed months of preparation and planning between school administrators and Carmi Police Chief Randy Hamblin.
Page 2 of 2 - White County Sheriff Doug Maier has confirmed more training will be conducted April 11 in White County. The training will be led by Mobile Training Unit 15.
The Southern Illinois Criminal Justice Training Program, MTU 15, exists under the authority of Illinois Compiled Statutes Public Act 82-674 "Intergovernmental Law Enforcement Officers In-Service Training Act.”
The act states that "Mobile Team In-Service Training Unit" or "Mobile Team" means an organization formed by a combination of units of local government and a governing board and established under this Act to deliver in-service training to local and state law enforcement officers.
MTU 15 serves the counties of Alexander, Crawford, Clay, Edward, Effingham, Fayette, Franklin, Gallatin, Hamilton, Hardin, Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson, Johnson, Lawrence, Marion, Massac, Perry, Pope, Pulaski, Richland, Saline, Union, Wabash, Wayne, White and Williamson.
MTU 15 will be busy over the next two months conducting the same training course in Benton, Olney and Metropolis. Specialized training for the telecommunicator's response to school violence is also offered.