In the aftermath of the most recent and tragic school shooting in Florida, I want to take this opportunity to inform you of the preparation and planning that has been ongoing here in Skamania County. It became apparent several years ago that these types of incidents required a more active approach by law enforcement and one that may require actions by a deputy that contradict the long-taught tactics of waiting for help.
The Skamania County Sheriff’s Office has taken the following actions as it relates to preparation for the possibility of an active shooter incident in our local school districts.
- Training is conducted annually consisting of onsite drills in the buildings. Deputies are instructed to tactically move through the buildings with the ultimate focus on finding and eliminating the threat.
- Training consists of both classroom instruction and live simulation fire in the buildings.
- Deputies are taught to advance toward a threat in the buildings even when they are the only deputy on scene.
We are trained and committed to enter alone when that is the only option.
- Local Fire and EMS responders are included in training scenarios to provide the best chance of providing aid to those in need.
- Our communications center and 911 dispatchers are active in the training scenarios and maintain access to available video platforms at the high school.
- Quarterly meetings are conducted with the Superintendent of the Stevenson-Carson School District as an ongoing effort to update plans and actions.
- Meetings occur with school staff to educate them on what to expect from a law enforcement response.
- Response plans, evacuation plans and reunification plans have been established and are part of the overall incident planning process.
- Training is conducted with law enforcement agencies in the Columbia River Gorge on both sides of the river. We recognize our obligation to each other in these types of incidents and understand the immense amount of resources needed to stabilize the incident.
I want to assure all of you that we will continue to dedicate time toward training and planning for this type of incident with the hope that we never experience it.
I am extremely proud of all the employees here at the Sheriff’s Office and their commitment to preparation and mental conditioning with the goal of minimizing the impact of such an incident.
The Sheriff’s Office will remain engaged with our school districts and the community to ensure we provide a safe environment conducive to learning and free from the threat of harm.
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