Jonesboro police practice for school shooter

6:31 PM, Jan 26, 2013   |    comments
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Jonesboro, Ga. - It's a rare scenario, but that doesn't mean it couldn't happen here. After the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, Jonesboro Police Chief Franklin Allen knew he had to get his department ready.

"We shouldn't have to talk about the safety of our kids in school, that should be sacred ground," Allen said. "But I see this as an emerging national trend, and we just want to be progressive in this and get ahead of the curve."

His officers received several hours of special training from the Clayton County Sheriff's Office, and practiced tactics in the hallways of Suder Elementary School. At the end of the day, they loaded paint bullets into practice firearms and the different scenarios began.

In addition to learning how to charge in to clear hallways and classrooms, they had to evaluate targets and situations, practice when to shoot and when to hold their fire. Before the Columbine shooting, local police departments were taught to establish a perimeter and wait for the SWAT team. Now they're told every second counts.

"It gets our officers thinking," Allen said. "And if we've got our officers thinking then we've accomplished our goal in their training."

But after the fake smoke cleared and the practice bullet casings dropped, the officers had to think about a sad new reality. The idea that it may now be necessary to have armed men racing through hallways next to snowman pictures and tiny desks.

"It saddens me deeply that we have to do this," said Officer J.P. Smallwood.

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