Local schools discuss active shooter training protocol after Florida shooting

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- After 17 people were killed in a tragic shooting at a Florida high school, many Indiana school districts are discussing their active shooter training protocol.

According to the Indiana Department of Education (DOE), districts are required to conduct one "man-made occurrence drill" each semester. Those drills could include bomb treats, knife threats, or active shooter training. It's up to each district to decide which of the drills they choose per semester.

Some districts do more than one drill each semester. The state allows schools to substitute a monthly fire drill for an active shooter or lock down drill, if they choose.

Indiana requires school districts to have a school safety specialist. That person is responsible for developing and implementing preparedness plans. DOE Director of School Building Physical Security and Safety David Woodward said those specialists are required to complete more training than most other states recommend.

"One of the most important things with the preparedness plan is that it should never sit on the shelf and collect dust. It should always be reviewed. Preparedness plans are living documents and so we need to treat them as such. We’re always evolving," Woodward said.

Indiana State Police (ISP) troopers often go into businesses and offices to teach active shooter training. Sgt. Trent Smith said mass shootings bring an increase in local organizations wanting to learn tools to keep people safe.

ISP teaches the "run, hide, fight," approach to an active shooter. Sgt. Smith said even with plans and procedures, sometimes tragedies can happen.

The shooter who killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was a former student. Sgt. Smith said in most situations, the shooter is familiar with the location and may even know the emergency procedure.

"These people are very well versed in what they’re doing, their plan. They know what the response time is going to be. They know where the large groups of people are going to be. They know they have a limited amount of time to do as much damage as possible," Sgt. Smith said.

To prevent a tragedy, Sgt. Smith said sometimes the best procedure is prevention. He says it's important to speak up and be vocal if you see something suspicious.

"We don’t want to be the agency that’s responding to it, we want to be the agency that's out there trying to prevent this tragedy before anything like this ever happens," Sgt. Smith said.

The DOE said any changes to protocol or procedures for mandatory requirements for training in schools would be up to lawmakers.

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