Law enforcement hopes to learn from active shooter drill

Things around the Washington Co., VA Courthouse in Abingdon were not quite as they seemed this morning.

Around 11 am this morning, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, assisted by the Abingdon Police Department, Virginia State Police, Washington County Life Saving Crew, U.S. Marshals Emergency Management, Department of Social Services, Abingdon Ambulance Service, the civilian employees of the Washington County Courthouse, and multiple other assisting agencies, conducted a mock active shooter exercise at the Washington County Virginia Courthouse.  

This exercise has undergone a lengthy planning process, which has been in the preplanning phase for in excess of a year, to include the installation of a new active shooter alarm system at the courthouse, and which has culminated in a successful training exercise for all responding partners to better prepare our agency, the courthouse employees, as well as many others, should a horrible and tragic event such as this occur.  

Exercises such as this serve as excellent blueprints for response to tragic events by law enforcement and emergency medical services, which better prepares those responding by allowing evaluation of areas for improvement in order to be the most efficient at saving lives, should something like this transpire.  

In the event of a mass shooting incident in our county, we not only wish to make every attempt to prevent these horrible acts, but also to prepare for a response should they occur.  In so doing, exercises such as this are paramount to ensuring our citizens receive the benefit of the best education and training we can provide to officers and first responders.  

“Today’s mock active shooter exercise went extremely well,” stated Sheriff Newman.  “Although we observed several issues that needed to be corrected, they will be addressed.  We hope this training will never be implemented, but in the event that it is, we feel we are better prepared to deal with this type of situation.”  

We wish to thank all agencies and civilians who participated in this exercise, and will be welcoming their feedback in the ensuing months.  We also wish to thank the citizens and business owners in the immediate area of the courthouse who may have been inconvenienced during this important drill.  Finally, we wish to thank those members of the media who participated in our “mock” press conference today, which better fortified our relationships to ensure that information, in an event such as this, is immediately and efficiently transmitted to our citizens and the public.  

Newman added, “We knew what we wanted to do but we wanted to come up with a good scenario. We tried to cover all the agencies that we needed to be involved in the event and I think thus far it’s worked well.  I’m sure that there is going to be some things that will be brought up during the de-briefing that we need to cover.  That is a situation where we want our people to obviously be very attentive to those that are coming thru the courthouse. And, again, the courthouse is only one location. We’ve got schools that we’re obviously concerned about the safety and well being of the faculty, students and staff.”

Copyright 2015 WJHL.  All rights reserved.

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