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Should the unthinkable happen and a shooting occurs at a Paris school, the police department is ready to respond, Police Chief Bob Hundley told Paris Independent School District trustees Monday.
“I’ve got good news, and I’ve got good news,” Hundley said of safety at local schools.
Since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut late last year, the issue of school safety has come to the forefront in many communities.
“Since the incident at Sandy Hook, we thought we’d let them come out and tell us where we stand on safety,” board President George Fisher said.
If a shooting like Columbine or Sandy Hook were to happen in Paris, every resource the Paris Police Department has available would be put into play, he said. That doesn’t mean it’d be instantaneous, however. If someone were to start shooting, by the time someone called 9-1-1 and police responded, it would likely be over with, he said.
“If somebody really doesn’t mind dying, they can do something like this,” he said.
So, while response time is important, prevention is the real key. Which is part of the reason PISD has two uniformed school resource officers and marked cars around the schools. Paris Police Department’s policies and plans are designed to “dovetail” with the district’s own.
“PISD and the staff have always been wonderful to work with,” Hundley said, noting the district has always been willing to let the police department use its facilities for training, such as an active shooter training held at Justiss Elementary School for all law enforcement officers in Lamar County just after the Columbine shooting in 1999.
Members of the SWAT team frequently visit the various campuses to become aware with the schools, he said.
Rather than waiting for SWAT to show up, officers are trained to respond themselves to a situation if they know exactly where it’s “going down,” he said.
“If there’s somebody already shooting, we’re going to try to locate that person and neutralize him,” he said.
One of the biggest issues law enforcement will face should such an incident ever happen will be worried parents, Hundley said.
“We’re in the age of technology. Kids are going to get on their phones and text and call,” he said. “We’re going to have problems with parents who are scared to death, and that’s understandable.”