The presentation by Sumiton Assistant Police Chief Scott Karr and Dora Police Chief John Duchock featured coverage and statistics from past school shootings.
The program began with Karr stressing the importance of situational awareness - knowing the surroundings and the people who are in them. This can minimize the damage in an emergency and assist police in their investigation.
Duchock presented the basic profile that many school shooters fit into, which, he said, varies from their adult counterparts’ profile in several way. This profile of an “active shooter” was built by the FBI and Secret Service. These students are not loners, as they are often portrayed, but rather students who have tried to join into activities and been rejected. Most of then have also displayed warning signs or behavior that alarmed someone near them, a teacher, parent, friend, etc.
Duchock said that these individuals, who usually act alone, do not suddenly “snap” but instead are driven to attack after long-term alienation and persecution by peers. These individuals plan the attack well in advance, document those plans using internet blogs, social media and video cameras and most hint to someone that they are planning this type of event. They also exhibit a loss of their grasp on reality, acting or feeling as if they are characters in a movie or video game, for example.
Duchock also said that 51 percent of school shooters commit suicide inside the school or on the school grounds after the attack.
Karr also showed a video outlining the Columbine School attack in 1999, which left 12 students and one teacher dead at the hands of two rampaging students. It was the deadliest shooting on a high school campus. Unfortunately, Karr said, many of the issues and problems that led to that massacre still exist today.
“We still haven’t heeded all the warnings from 14 years ago,” he said.
He also encouraged the educators to reach out to their local law enforcement officials and develop a relationship that would make them feel more at ease reporting concerns or issues to the police.
He also stressed the importance of doing everything possible to make the school a hard target for a shooter or anyone who doesn’t belong on the campus. That includes forcing visitors to show identification, practicing the plan for an emergency situation and working to physically secure the buildings to prevent unauthorized entry.
Administrators and teachers from all Walker County schools, as well as Walker County Board of Education personnel, Superintendent Jason Adkins and Walker County Commission Chairman Billy Luster all attended the session.
Ray Capps of the Walker County Sheriff’s Office also provided the attendees with information about the way the county plans to respond, particularly in areas where there are no municipal police to cover the call. Capps also said that they plan on visiting each school to begin to learn the layout of each school and, at some point, will visit each school to identify potential risks.
Adkins praised the response of the local police departments and the sheriff’s deputies for their coverage of the local schools in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting last month.