Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s Office (TPSO) deputies and Houma Police Department (HPD) officers received active shooter training at Terrebonne High School on Thursday.
“The city police and the sheriff’s office are very used to training together. We train together from basic levels all the way to the tactical levels,” said TPSO Chief Deputy Col. Terry Daigre. “We’ve trained together on this [active shooter scenarios] for years. I’m very confident in the training that our guys are receiving, that we’re ready to deal with the situation we hope never comes.”
Thursday’s training, as opposed to normal simulations with full squads, was designed to prepare officers in the event that they are first on an active shooter scene — whether they are on duty or not.
“…In the most recent shootings, there’s been one officer showing up, the one in Parkland or wherever else. We’re talking about guys who were off duty and being the first person there,” said Capt. Shane Fletcher, director of TPSO’s Regional Training Academy. “So, the nontraditional way is what’s going on now— that they’re teaching all across the States. The traditional way would have been for the officer to get there and just hold, stay put until the SWAT team or other trained officers would arrive, and then go in as a group.”
“You can utilize your unit off duty for certain things…We have policies that say you must have things in there to immediately identify you as a deputy or cop. You must have a firearm with you at all times while you’re in your unit, things like that,” added Daigre. “We’re police officers 24/7. Whether on duty or off duty, we’re expected, and we will react to things like this.”
At the simulation on Thursday, 28 TPSO deputies, 27 HPD officers and one Terrebonne Parish District Attorney investigator methodically worked down the hallways of Terrebonne High to locate active shooter indicators such as bullets and blood. Going in solo or as a group of two, the law enforcement members in training then reacted to a stimulus such as gun shots and other loud noises and rushed to its origin. There, they met up with another individual or small team that entered from a different section of the building. Then together, during the simulation, they breached the active scene, subdued the suspect and secured the scene.
Although they hold major scale active shooter training in the summer, when schools are out, Daigre explained, law enforcement members receive in service training throughout the year — especially SWAT members who train for different active shooter scenarios on a monthly basis. “We train the same nationwide in law enforcement across the country because you never know what agency may show up to help another agency,” he added. “So, it’s all made to blend in perfectly together.”
When it comes to active shooter situations, law enforcement agencies have a ‘hope for the best, but prepare for the worst’ mentality.
“We have to believe it’s going to happen; you have to think that way,” said Fletcher “It’s kind of like a hurricane. You can see it coming and you can make preparations for it...So, you don’t want to get caught in a hurricane unprepared. And you definitely don’t want to get caught in this situation unprepared.” •