FORSYTH COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — On Thursday, Forsyth County school resource officers will conduct their first in-school active training exercise since the tragic events at Mt. Tabor High School in September and Uvalde, Texas in May.
All 39 SROs assigned to the 14 middle and high school campuses brushed up on tactics and effective ways to clear classrooms and search for and neutralize any on-campus shooter.
“If you don’t train for this, and it happens, you’re going to freeze,” said Sammy Peddycord, an instructor with the sheriff’s office.
The events in Texas, where a gunman killed 19 students and two teachers, and the delayed response of law enforcement put Thursday’s exercise into perspective for local SROs.
“It starts to bring that realism home to them…if it were to happen here, they need to handle that situation the way that it needs to be handled…if you hear gunfire, you are going to it. They must keep that mindset that they have to go stop them,” Peddycord said.
SROs were allowed to train in one of the empty school campuses, which is the first time for them to do so since last year.
Officers walked through various scenarios, which included moving through an active shooter situation as a group or as a lone individual with no backup.
Peddycord told FOX8 that doing this training in a school is essential to getting officers comfortable with how to move through the halls.
“We still use the traditional four-man method. We hammer in one or two responses because in real life, that is what they are going to be responding with,” he said.
They also practiced how to change their approach given the situation.
“If you don’t hear [gunshots], slow down your approach and start clearing rooms,” he said. “If you hear it again, start going to it. Look for spent shell casing. That can tell you where they might be.”
Law enforcement said they also practice how to address shooters who might have been students at one point and went through active shooter scenarios, therefore, knowing tactics children and teachers use to stay safe.
The training only includes FCSO SROs, however, Peddycord explained that the training is identical to tactics used by law enforcement agencies across the country. This makes it easier for better coordination between agencies on the scene.
SRO training is expected to last two weeks.