In light of recent events, including the shooting in Parkland, Fla., the Fallon Police Department and Churchill County Sheriff’s Office are training together in active shooter exercises for preparation, and to further heighten safety at Fallon schools.
Local law enforcement agencies gathered at Churchill County High School on Tuesday, during spring break, and practiced two scenarios involving hostage students portrayed by law enforcement staff members.
Ammunition was not used for training purposes.
Steve Russell, director of safety & transportation at Churchill County School District, said this is the first time law enforcement is training in collaboration for this type of drill.
“We adjusted this program for both agencies,” he said. “Emergency planning evolves as time evolves.”
Sgt. Mel Jabines of CCSO helped lead the training for both agencies, as he also is the SWAT leader for the sheriff’s office and teaches active shooting classes at Nevada Peace Officers Standards and Training Academy in Carson City.
He advised officers to take charge during the training, especially since some of officers are new to Churchill County and Fallon law enforcement.
“There’s a mixture of experience involving this type of exercise,” Jabines said. “This is a huge deal to see how two agencies interact with each other, and convert and learn.”
Two board trustees of the Churchill County School District also attended the event to observe the training to present the experience at the next school board meeting Wednesday.
“It’s important to keep our schools safe,” said Trustee Kathyrn Whitaker. “It’s on all of our minds.”
Trustee Carmen Schank said the school district was recognized for safety excellence from district safety inspections in the past, as the resources may contribute to new security strategies.
But Schank said there’s another reason why violence may have increased in schools overall.
“Part of safety concern is bullying,” she said. “We’ve upped our policies and we have no tolerance for bullying.”
As far as current safety on school campuses, local law enforcement is patrolling in designated school areas, said CCSD Director of Maintenance Ozzie Henke.
But Henke said Tuesday’s training will have benefits beyond active shooting scenarios for both agencies.
“This training is needed as it will help law enforcement to get familiarized with school grounds,” he said. “Today may be a shooter but tomorrow may be a crazy guy driving his truck through the building, or a chemical spill.”
Both FPD and CCSO conducted active shooter exercises at Northside Early Learning Center last month, and also will conduct the same training at Churchill County Middle School.