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Training takes aim at potential active school shooters

Law enforcement from Llano County as well as state agencies have launched a series of training sessions in the event of an active shooter on school campuses. The last session was held Oct. 18-19. Pictured are Robert Clark of the Burnet County Sheriff's Office; Kirk Jowers of the Llano County Sheriff's Office; Bryan Scoggins of the Llano Police Department; and William Dudley of the Llano County Sheriff's Office. Courtesy photo

CONNIE SWINNEY • PICAYUNE STAFF

LLANO — High-profile school shooting incidents have prompted local law enforcement to host a series of on-campus training sessions, which are hosted by the Llano County Sheriff’s Office.

“It’s about as real as it gets without using live ammunition. We’re in a small community, so just about every law enforcement officer in Llano County and surrounding counties would respond to an event if it were serious enough to require that type of response,” said Llano County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy John Neff. “It’s good to have the training at a school because that’s where a lot of these high-profile cases have been in the news; these high-profile cases like Columbine and Sandy Hook. We hope it never happens in Llano, but if it does, we want to be prepared.”

LCSO worked with police agencies from Horseshoe Bay, Llano and Sunrise Beach as well as the Burnet County Sheriff’s Office, Llano County constables and Texas Parks and Wildlife Game Wardens on Oct. 18-19 to launch the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) sessions on the Llano Junior High School campus.

An upcoming training session is scheduled for Oct. 25-26 at the same location.

“It’s something that not only is it good for our local law enforcement to have access to our buildings and see and know and get familiar with our buildings but also for them to have some advance training in case we need that in the future,” said Llano Independent School District Superintendent Casey Callahan. “We are not necessarily concerned about an imminent threat, but being actively prepared is something that is both smart and prudent in this day and time.”

Law enforcement has also assisted the school district in streamlining and updating safety protocols.

“We’ve been working all year on an improved safety plan,” Callahan said. “Each one of the schools have more common language, common drills, in case someone’s on a different campus they know what to do in case they hear a certain word what to do with their students and staff at that time.”

School officials recently earmarked $175,000 in bond money for surveillance and door security upgrades as well.

“We have security vestibules for each of the campuses, which is more secure,” Callahan said. “It would be a barrier for someone that did not need to be in our schools.”

Callahan said workers have outfitted Packsaddle Elementary School in Kingsland with the new entryway security system, and the enhanced systems will soon appear on the rest of the campuses throughout the district.

Funding also paid for updated and additional surveillance cameras throughout the district.

“We’ve been working with the school district probably for a year, building toward this training, and we’ve been working with other school districts and watched how they do their drills where we can actually learn from it,” Neff said. “The school district’s role is going to be the safety of students and staff,” Neff said. “Our role will be to go in, locate and take care of the threat.”

connie@thepicayune.com