KNOXVILLE TN Aug 12 2012- just days before Knox County students head back to class, Knoxville police and Knox County Schools security officers trained together for the first time.They trained together for one week, learning skills they hope they never have to use inside a school.School security officers perfected their aim on the firing range Friday at the police department’s training facility. they also learned a few new defense tactics from police SWAT team members.“We’ve been out here before with KPD, but this is the first time we actually get to spend a week out here with KPD and their instructors, going through a lot of things, honing the marksmanship skills and kind of knocking the ruts loose, so to speak,” said School Security Officer Torrick Turner.School security officers are armed guards who work with police officers anytime police are called to a school. Both undergo their own extensive training to stop threats like a school shooting.Deputy Police Chief Gary Holliday says safety is top priority when encountering a threat inside a school. “Neutralizing the threat and keeping our kids safe,” he said.The 2010 shooting of a principal and assistant principal at Inskip Elementary School drove home the importance of this kind of training.“It does hit close to home,” said KPD Officer Geoffrey Murret. “plus I have kids of my own that go to school. So as a parent as well as being an officer, it is a very big concern of ours to make sure that we are prepared, and to make sure that our kids are safe.”Both groups agree they can be better prepared by working together.“We’re doing this because we want to be sure that if we have to respond to something in the schools, we know what the other officers are going to be doing when they respond to that,” Holliday explained.
“we want to be sure that we’re clearing rooms in the same manner, that we’re approaching suspects in the same manner, so there’s no confusion if something does happen.”The officers even made their way, guns drawn, in teams of two through a training building set up with tight hallways and small rooms. they fired their handguns in opposite directions once they reached a room where a simulated threat required them to use deadly force.Security Officer Jay Gibson says these are skills he hopes he’ll never have to put to use, but he’s glad he’s prepared to act.Gibson says training with experts in SWAT is invaluable. “I think it’s great. It builds trust among the departments. It gives us a great opportunity to train with some people that do this very frequently and builds teamwork.”The police department also made training videos of the exercises. They’ll be able to review the training, and make changes if necessary.“at the end of the day, our job is to make sure that the right people go home, and we want to do that by working side by side, each and every day,” Turner added.The school security officers completed KPD’s firearms qualifying program and wrapped up the week-long training Friday by putting all they’ve learned to the test.Source: WATE