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Virginia Sheriffs’ Association
The Voice of Virginia’s Sheriffs & Deputies

In Stafford County, Virginia, on Thursday, March 21, 2013, over 250 teachers, Para-professionals and school administrators participated in a two and half hour class on what they could do in case of a an active shooter situation in their school.  Led by the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office and in partnership with Stafford County Public Schools, educators got an up close and personal look at what measures they can take that may well save the lives of the students in their classroom or school.

Led by retired Captain Rod Davis and retired First Sergeant Frank Martello, the auditorium full of educators was given information on assailant profiles; actions, short of lethal force, to prevent, avoid and defeat an attack, what to expect when sheriff’s deputies arrive on scene and the importance of having a survival mindset.  These two law enforcement professionals shared with the class lessons learned from previous school attacks that required a change in police response.  Three valuable lessons shared with the class were that active shooters will continue to kill until confronted by resistance, initial officers on scene will now immediately enter a school and attempt to locate and engage the assailant and victim passivity will result in death or serious injury.

The mentality of the shooter was discussed as well as the course of action an active school shooter will usually follow once they enter a school.  Captain Davis and First Sergeant Martello discussed at length the importance of having a survival mindset, situational awareness, a pre-attack plan (Run, Hide, and Fight), as well as reporting and making contact with any and all suspicious persons and a plan for escape or a plan if escape is not possible.

The educators were given specific actions they could do when staying in place and, if needed, a fight plan that may well stop the attacker from taking any lives or additional lives.  The frightening reality was presented that, in some cases, the alternative to fighting was dying.  The Sheriff’s Office also had on display numerous hand guns and rifles that active shooters have used in the past so that the teachers and other school personnel could fully understand the potential danger that is now a reality in school across the nation.

The room full of participants were presented with a one sentence summary.  “Mental preparation, situation awareness, accepting the reality of the situation and decisive action are your best chance of preventing the worst day of your life from being the last day of your life and perhaps, the lives of those depending on you.”  The Stafford County Sheriff’s Office will continue to provide this class through out the year and summer.

“It is everyone’s hope and prayer that the information that we have provided to the educators in Stafford County will never have to be used.”  states Stafford Sheriff Charles Jett.  “But if our worse fears come true it is our desire that information we shared will help save a life.”