MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Mobile Police train all year long making sure officers are ready if and when an active shooter situation happens in Mobile County.
Lieutenant Scott Hanks with Mobile Police’s Special Operations team said, “Every time you guys heard those gunshots, that could theoretically be somebody getting shot.”
Officers run in fast focused on stopping the shots. Mobile Police train officers so they’re ready to go in before more reinforcements arrive.
“Even one, if one has to go do, do the work, hey, one has to go,” said Lt. Hanks. “Two preferably, but one can do it.”
Something once unthinkable is now a reality in 2022. Education Week reports at least 34 school shootings across the United States in 2021.
Mobile Police firearms instructor Officer Brad Penton said, “After Columbine, several programs were created for response to [an] active shooter.”
Law enforcement across Alabama use what’s called ALERRT. Officer Penton explained, “Advanced law enforcement rapid response training, its response to active shooter primarily based on a patrol officer, first responder, first on scene.”
Officer Penton continued, “Texas State University came out with the ALERRT program and it was adopted almost universally across the United States.”
Officers tell WKRG News 5, once officers are at the school they go inside working to stop the shooting as quickly as possible. It means they don’t have the time to wait for a SWAT response.
Lt. Hanks said, “We’re usually on specialized missions, or training, or doing stuff for the city. Patrol guys are out there every day. It’s their job to be the first people to it.”
Mobile Police firearms training unit commander Lieutenant Leland Terrell said, “Special Operations actually has a file on every school, the layouts, the doors, all the hard entry points, everything that we need to know about getting into that school, as well as the contact information and [the] number of students.”
Every second counts in an active shooter situation for those responding and those inside the school.
Lt. Terrell explained what the plan is once officers get to the scene. He said, “The first initial officers, they’re not going to be worried about setting up much of anything. They’re going to be getting what they need and going in and moving towards what they deem to be the threat to where they believe the threat to be. That’s the first and most immediate course of action. That’s the first mission. After that to be setting up containment in case in case the shooter gets mobile, so to speak, outside of the structure.”
Lt. Terrell continued, “Students will, if they’re not in the classroom, they’re going to have a couple of options. One is either try to get out of the structure as fast as they can. If they can. If they can’t, they’re going to find a good place to hide. That’s not easily discoverable, preferably to ensure their safety. And one of the main things during this time that people forget is cell phones. If you’re going to have your cell phone on you, it needs to be on silent and not vibrate.”
It’s chilling advice, but a reality for students keeping students safe when they’re in class.