Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pasco officers spend afternoon training for school shootings

LAND O'LAKES

She had a knife aimed right at her heart, but Megan Jaufmann couldn't suppress a giggle. "Where is she?" the helmeted man with the knife demanded, gripping Jaufmann by the collar Thursday afternoon during a Pasco County Sheriff's Office training exercise. "Tell me where she is!" Jaufmann, 15, choked back her laugh and shouted back. "No! I don't know!" Seconds later, another man burst into the office at Sanders Memorial Elementary School, his gun in front of him. Just as Jaufmann's attacker raised his right fist to sink the tinfoil knife into her chest, several paintball bullets pinged off his black vest, leaving splashes of fluorescent pink.

"Awesome," said Cpl. Jeremy Colhouer approvingly. He told the school resource officer who had come to Jauffmann's rescue to hand his equipment off to another trainee.

"Yeah, he got me … this time," the mock stabber said, grinning.

A joking mood prevailed at the Sheriff's Office-sponsored active shooter training for 40 school resource officers, or SROs, drawn from the Pasco County Sheriff's Office, Dade City Police Department, Hernando County Sheriff's Office and New Port Richey Police Department.

The training session was designed to equip them for school shooter situations such as those at Columbine and Virginia Tech. Members of the Sheriff's Office Explorers, teens who receive training to possibly pursue a career in law enforcement, joined the scenarios as mock students.

The SROs milled around in fluorescent orange traffic control vests, wondering where they could find air conditioning and trading stories of their worst paintball injuries. A hit from a paintball bullet stings, even through a padded vest.

Did they prefer playing the good guys or the bad guys, as the role-playing officers and shooters were called?

"They're both fun," SRO Joe Kwiatkowski said.

But they turned serious when they ran the shooting scenarios, one by one.

Before the Columbine shootings, police officers were taught to set up a perimeter and call for a SWAT team, said Lt. J.R. Law, one of the trainers. But the 1999 killings sparked a nationwide change in thinking, he said: SWAT teams often take too long to arrive. School police officers must stop the shooter right away.

"It doesn't take long to kill a lot of people," Law said. "The shooter's focus is going to be on the students. Your victims are going to grow by the second if you don't intervene."

The Sheriff's Office began designing this type of training in July, he said, although SROs are trained annually to respond to shooter situations to reflect new tactics.

The Sanders Elementary building, which is slated for demolition, made a good training ground, Law said, standing in a sunny courtyard that served as the site of the first shooter scenario.

"They're gonna come in and eliminate the threat," the trainer, Cpl. Michael Sims, instructed the role-player. "Which is you."

As soon as Sims gave the sign to begin, the mock shooter burst into the courtyard, firing indiscriminately at the mock students standing by some bushes. In a second, three students were down.

A SRO skidded around the corner of the building, bypassing the students on the ground. He popped five paintball bullets at the shooter, who fell heavily to his knees and lay down on the walkway.

"There's no warning, no second chance," Law said from a safe distance away. "We're gonna eliminate the threat and talk later."

Vivian Yee can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 869-6236.

Pasco officers spend afternoon training for school shootings 08/12/10 [Last modified: Thursday, August 12, 2010 9:49pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. It's not just Puerto Rico: FEMA bogs down in Florida, Texas too

    HOUSTON — Outside Rachel Roberts' house, a skeleton sits on a chair next to the driveway, a skeleton child on its lap, an empty cup in its hand and a sign at its feet that reads "Waiting on FEMA."

    Ernestino Leon sits among the debris removed from his family’s flood-damaged Bonita Springs home on Oct. 11. He has waited five weeks for FEMA to provide $10,000 to repair the home.
  2. McConnell says he's awaiting Trump guidance on health care

    STERLING, Va. — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday he's willing to bring bipartisan health care legislation to the floor if President Donald Trump makes clear he supports it.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he’s “not certain yet” on what Trump wants.
  3. Tampa's Lance McCullers shows killer instinct in pitching Astros to World Series

    Ml

    HOUSTON — It felt like the beginning on Saturday night at Minute Maid Park, the arrival of a new force on the World Series stage. The Astros are back, for the first time in a dozen years, and they want to stay a while.

    Houston Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers (43) throwing in the fifth inning of the game between the Houston Astros and the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, July 12, 2015.
  4. Jones: Where are the difference-makers on the Bucs defense?

    Bucs

    ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — They can't tackle. They can't cover. They can't pressure the quarterback, let alone sack him.

    Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor (5) scrambles past Bucs defensive tackle Clinton McDonald (98) during the first half. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  5. Bucs-Bills journal: Breakout game for Bucs tight end O.J. Howard

    Bucs

    ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — It's obscured by the final score and a disappointing loss, but Bucs rookie tight end O.J. Howard had a breakout game Sunday, exceeding his season totals for catches and touchdowns in one afternoon.

    Bucs tight end O.J. Howard (80) celebrates a touchdown catch with quarterback Jameis Winston (3) during the second half. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]