Schools, Church prepare in case of an active shooter situation

February 16, 2018 05:51 AM

School districts in the Capital Region are looking at their active shooter policies after Wednesday’s mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida. 17 people were killed and 14 others were wounded when 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz opened fire.

But it’s not just schools preparing in case of an active shooter in the Capital District, it’s also churches.

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“I think we need to get out of the mindset if it’s going to happen, it’s when is it going to happen,” said Saratoga County Sheriff’s Deputy Kenneth D. Cooper.

Deputy Cooper was leading an active shooter training session at Jonesville United Methodist Church Thursday night. Volunteers with the church said they reached out to the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office about a training session after 26 people were killed at a small church in Texas last November.

"I was very concerned,” said church volunteer Carol Dilallo. “It was a small church like our church is small and in a rural area similar to this church and I just felt we should start taking the steps to prepare ourselves.”

Deputy Cooper taught people about “Run, Hide, and Fight.” Steps that people should follow if they are ever in an active shooter situation.

“Your first, and I say priority, during an active shooter event is to find someplace to hide,” said Deputy Cooper. “We teach run, hide, fight and the run part is an avenue you can take, but you don’t want to go too far to leave a building because you may end up running into an active shooter.”

Deputy Cooper said if you can't run or hide, fight back. People should be aggressive and throw items at the shooter and try to slow them down.

With Wednesday’s shooting in Florida taking place at a high school, many school districts in the Capital District are now taking another look at their active shooter polices.

“When something like that happens, we certainly review our plans,” said Troy City School District Superintendent John Carmello. “Review what we have in place, making sure that anything best practiced that comes out of there, we'll try to incorporate.”

Schenectady City School District’s Superintendent said the school reviewed its active shooter policies and is not recommending any changes at this time.

But whether it’s a school or church, there’s something that everyone can do to be proactive.

If you see something, you have to say something,” explained Deputy Cooper. “It's important to remember that it could be something simple to you, it's not simple to us."

Carmello said the same policy applies at schools.

"That's certainly a message in all of our buildings that we all need to be in this together and report anything that seems out of the ordinary,” added Carmello.

The Jonesville United Methodist Church said after Thursday night’s session, they now want to hold an active shooter drill.

Troy City School District said it will have a major active shooter drill with multiple state agencies this spring.


Emily De Vito

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