Officers from five different agencies are taking advantage of Rolla High School's spring break to receive training on what to do in the instance of an active shooter situation in the school.
Missouri Highway Patrol Trooper Kellen Rapier is in charge, managing simulations and helping the officers improve their response to critical situations.
“We’ve been wanting to do this for awhile, work with all of the agencies in the area just to work on active shooter type situations,” he said. “We’ve done it before in the past, but this is the first time in a little while.”
Rapier said a total of 50 officers are taking part in the training, which began last week with the officers studying in the classroom and running what he called “live-fire drills” at the range.
On Tuesday, officers set up several simulations on each floor of the high school, with one officer acting as the shooter, and the others checking classrooms and engaging the shooter once the word is received. The officers used simulated ammunition.
The agencies involved with the training include the Missouri State Highway Patrol, from Troop I and F, along with Rolla and St. James PD, the University Police, and Newburg.
“We’re out here training with officers we maybe never work with on a daily basis because that’s how a real life situation is going to be,” said Rapier. “I may show up with county, city and maybe a reserve from somewhere and we all have to go in and work together to stop the threat.”
Rapier added he wanted to thank the agencies that sent officers to participate in the training, whom he said have been “doing a great job.”
“It’s not something anyone ever hopes happens to them,” he said. “But they’re getting prepared in case the day ever does come where they have to go in and do their job as law enforcement.”
Like any other skill, Rapier said regular practice is necessary to make sure officers are ready to respond to the real-world version of what they were practicing at the high school.
“Just like how we stop cars all the time, we do a lot of training for that, we’re constantly stopping vehicles. If you don’t stop vehicles for a long time you get rusty on it. This is the same thing but at a much higher level of severity,” said Rapier.
As law enforcement, officers hope the day never comes when they have to put these type of skills into practice, but are prepared for it nonetheless, he said.
Rolla High School Principal Dr. Monica Davis, who was on hand for the training, offered her appreciation for those stepping in to protect the students under her care.
“I think it couldn’t have come fast enough,” she said regarding the training. “We’ve got to be prepared and know exactly what we’re going to do in case something tragic happens in our schools. I don’t think anybody can be overly prepared, but I think the more we have these trainings, the more we can prepare for something, whether it happens or not.”
Davis said when all members of law enforcement and first responders work together, they are able to have plan together both during and after a potential incident.
“I just wanted to say thank you to all of them, to give up their time to do this,” she added. “Our kids are the ones that are the soft spots in our community and we need to do whatever it takes to make sure we protect them at all costs.”
MSHP Troop I’s Public Information Officer, Sgt. Cody Fulkerson, agreed with Davis.
“There’s nothing more important in our community than our children,” he said. “That’s the reason we put on our uniforms and go to work every day.”