On Friday, December 14, 2012, the lives of all Americans changed dramatically. A small community in Newtown, Connecticut had a lone gunman enter the Sandy Hook Elementary School and kill 20 young children and 6 adults. Today, this incident is best known as the “deadliest school shooting in U.S. history.”
In response to this alarming incident, the Sutherlin Police Department quickly made plans to staff all of our schools (Sutherlin and Oakland) with officers at the start time and ending time of each school day. We have also provided random visits throughout the day until Christmas break began on December 21, 2012. Some might be wondering why, with no credible threat to our schools specifically, we would engage in this proactive effort.
My experience in public safety work over the past 32 years is that there is both a “real” and “perceived” sense of safety and security that we can all identify with on a daily basis. Our effort as a professional law enforcement agency is to be visible, approachable, answer questions that parents or students may have, and to provide a “real” and “perceived” sense of safety and security in our community.
This effort will continue into the foreseeable future, but on a more random basis throughout each week that school is in session this year. I invite you to read some of the very favorable, positive and appreciative comments that were posted on the Sutherlin Police Department Facebook webpage by going to www.cityofsutherlin.com, police department. You can also learn more about how to protect yourself, your family, and your coworkers by watching a video that has been posted on that site titled “Run, Hide, Fight,” posted as of December 17, 2012.
As a community, we all hope, of course, that the type of devastation and trauma the nation saw occur at Sandy Hook Elementary never occurs here in Douglas County. However, responsible law enforcement leadership and management dictates planning and preparing for the possibility that it could. We are therefore fully committed to being increasingly prepared to respond with immediate, effective action in order to, above all, save lives should a similar incident occur in our area. As a result of our heightened commitment, on February 2, 2013, the Sutherlin Police Department is hosting an “Active Shooter” course to which we have invited any law enforcement agency in Douglas County to train with us.
This training will be focused on good critical incident management, rapid response to an event, and deployment of resources to control, contain and stop any threat that may exist at any school, business, or venue where large numbers of people are present. The four officers who are state certified to teach this specialized course are Sgt. Justin Marquis, Master Officers, Rich Hopkins and Vaughn Rains, and Officer, Erik Johnson.
Our hope is to not be needed for an active shooter situation in our communities, our commitment is to be prepared in the event that we are.
We are honored to protect and serve the Cities of Sutherlin and Oakland in 2013!