The Greenwood City Police Department will be holding a class to teach civilians what to do in the event of an active shooter event in a public place on Jun. 7 at the PD. According to Sgt. Eric Pippin the participants will learn methods to reduce their likelihood of being injured as well as ways to defend themselves.
"What we want to teach the public is how to become a hard target as opposed to a soft target," said Pippin. "This can be accomplished by taking your defense into your own hands." Pippin stated that the old method of locking doors and hiding are not as effective. "We teach some of those principles but we will show through demonstrations how defending yourself is more effective than sitting in a corner and being shot."
Pippin said that one demonstration will prove how in 10 seconds a shooter can injure 16 people who are huddled in a corner. And how, In the same scenario, using a different technique that number could be a low as one.
"It is not going to happen that way every time," said Pippin. "But less people will get hurt the way we are going to teach this class."
The class will touch on barricading doors and using makeshift weapons. There will be classroom time as well as hands on training.
Pippin and Cpl. Dennis Wisner attended a class called Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events and were interested in bringing the class back to Greenwood. "Chief Dawson is all about the community so he was all for it." Said Pippin. "Anyone who goes to a public building should attend a class like this. It is not just for teachers. If you are at the mall and something breaks out and you can react you can help save lives and help save your family. You can start taking control of the situation where you are at. I am not saying go out and be a hero but you can get people out and get people to safety. The police are coming and when we get there we are going to overpower the threat."
According to the an FBI study there were 160 active shooter events between the year 2000 and 2013, which is an average of 11.4 per year. Out of the 160 events nearly 46 percent took place in businesses, 24 percent in schools including Institutions of higher learning, ten percent took place in government buildings, nearly four percent happened in houses of worship and the remainder of the events were in open spaces, residences and health care facilities.
The largest retailer by far in Greenwood is Walmart. Representatives from Walmart stated that they do have a plan in place in the event of an active shooter and that the training materials are available to all of their employees. Walmart uses the Avoid, Deny and Defend program. Employees are encouraged to Avoid the shooter if possible, Deny them access by locking doors when they can and Defend themselves if all else fails.
The Greenwood school system has been preparing for an active shooter event for years. The Greenwood PD along with the Sebastian County, FBI, and Fort Smith SWAT Teams have completed some active shooter training in the schools. Currently Greenwood uses the ALICE program which stands for, Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate.
Kevin Hesslen, Assistant Superintendent of Greenwood Schools, stated that he has been taught to train teachers the ALICE method. "We make an announcement if there is a shooter in the building," said Hesslen. "We want the shooter to know that we know they are there." Hesslen stated that after assessing the situation teachers are trained to lock and barricade doors with whatever they have available, try and locate an exit and to fight back if escape is not an option.
"We give them the power to do what they need to do," said Hesslen. "We give our teachers the ability to make common sense decisions. We don’t tell them to turn the lights out, cover the window and go sit in the corner and if someone gets in pray that the good guys get there first."
The school also has an app that every teacher has on their phone. If the teacher pushes the active shooter button on the app every officer in Greenwood on and off duty will get an alert that there is a shooter in the school and which school they are at. When the program was first installed an unannounced test of the app brought officers to the school in 47 seconds of the button being pushed.
The schools have Installed storefronts at East Hills, East Point, Westwood and North Main that employ magnetic locks where visitors must be buzzed in.
The Greenwood Police Department has been doing active shooter training in the schools for several years, which helps the officers learn the layout of the school buildings. The school also helps to pay the salary of two full time resource officers. One officer patrols the High School and Junior High Campus while the second officer splits his time between Westwood and the campus on the east side of town.
Currently the City of Greenwood does not have a plan in the event of an active shooter. However Mayor Doug Kinslow stated that city employees will be attending the class. Up until recently the Greenwood Police Department was located inside City Hall.
The Greenwood Democrat contacted several churches in the area and found that while some houses of worship do not have a plan to deal with a shooter others do take precautions such as locking certain doors at certain times and posting greeters who can assess a possible threat. Some pastor stated that they are aware of the members of the congregation that are carrying a weapon and have made sure that they are aware of one another.
The Active Shooter Class will be June 7 from 8 am to noon at the Greenwood Police station. The class is at maximum capacity with 44 students. Pippin stated that he would like to teach additional classes if there is enough interest. If you are interested in attending this class in the future contact the Greenwood PD at 996-4119.