Despite cloudy skies and rain in the forecast, over 200 educators participated in an active shooter training at Ridgeland High School last week.
Despite cloudy skies and rain in the forecast, over 200 educators participated in an active shooter training at Ridgeland High School last week.
Local law enforcement teamed up with school officials last week for an active shooter training at Ridgeland High School to prepare faculty and teachers in the event violent situations may occur.

“With shootings, bombings and other random acts of violence continuing to be a real threat to our society, we want to be prepared,” Sheriff Randy Tucker said.

Tucker added, “Our goal is to help put our parent’s mind at ease. Knowing their child’s teacher has gone through a drill like this is an important step toward accomplishing that goal.”

District Safety Coordinator James Thompson said that they had roughly 200 district employees attend the training session. He said he thought the afternoon exercise was productive and hopes to do more in the future. Thompson was a police officer in Pearl in October of 1997 when Pearl High School student Luke Woodham killed three, including two classmates and his mother, and injured seven more people at the high school and in his mother's case at his own home.

“This means a lot to me,” Thompson said. “We have a unique job in that we are in charge of other people’s children for a large part of the day and they trust us to keep them safe.”

The demonstration involved the staff of the Madison County Public School District. However, all teachers in Madison County were invited to participate. Local law enforcement agencies and several state agencies were also represented in the scenario.

The School Resource Officer at RHS, Ricky Bracey said that the purpose of this event was to help prepare Madison County Public School administrators, teachers and employees in the event an active shooter scenario should occur.  

“I think it went great and we got a lot of good feedback,” Bracey said.

Media were invited to attend though no media or cameras were allowed inside the school during the training scenario. Bracey said that they staged a violent and stressful scenario and then conducted a mock evacuation of the RHS premises.

“It is one thing to read about these horrible events in the newspaper or watch them on TV and another to be there. Our intention was to expose them to some of the sights and smells and emotions they can expect were something bad to happen. It is not just going over a plan on a sheet of paper,” Bracey said. “I talked to a lot of teachers after the event who said it really opened their eyes.”

Thompson hopes to organize a rotating list of Madison County Schools to hold a similar event at each year.

“Law enforcement has transitioned to a ‘when it happens to us’ tactical mindset not ‘if it happens to us’ traditional way of thinking. This will better prepare everyone to effectively navigate a tragic event such as an active shooter. While these training exercises are limited in simulating real-life events, it provides exceptional training opportunities for all agencies in the Ridgeland and Madison County area to understand the various roles and responsibilities each will undertake in an event of this magnitude”, said Chief John Neal of the Ridgeland Police Department.

The Madison County Sheriff’s Department conducted this training with the Madison County School District and the Canton Public School District several years ago. Thompson, who has been with the district since August, said he believes the last such training was at Germantown high School about five years ago.

Having prior success and knowing the importance of this training, Tucker said it was decided to unite all teachers and staff in Madison County under the same training and response plan. 

“This will be beneficial in the event law enforcement presence is required at a school. With school staff already prepared with a proactive response plan, law enforcement will be able to come in and react accordingly to keep everyone safe,” Tucker said.