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Amid school shootings, student safety top priority for Morgan Co. | #schoolsaftey

SOMERVILLE, Ala. — School shootings have unfortunately become common and the people who respond aren’t necessarily those who are trained. That is why this week, Morgan County deputies went to Brewer High School to conduct a round of tactical training. 

“If you study school shootings or really any active shooter scenario, it’s never the team that you would plan for to respond,” Public Information Officer for Morgan County Sherrif’s Office Mike Swafford said. “It’s never the group that works together every day.”

Research by the National Institute of Justice examined an era of marked increase in the number and deadly effect of mass shootings in the United States. To summarize that trend:

  • The project spanned mass shootings over more than 50 years, yet 20% of the 167 mass shootings in that period occurred in the last five years of the study period.
  • More than half occurred after 2000, of which 33% occurred after 2010.
  • The years with the highest number of mass shootings were 2018, with nine, and 1999 and 2017, each with seven.
  • Sixteen of the 20 deadliest mass shootings in modern history (i.e., from 1966 through 2019), occurred between 1999 and 2019, and eight of those sixteen occurred between 2014 and 2019.
  • The death toll has risen sharply, particularly in the last decade. In the 1970s, mass shootings claimed an average of eight lives per year. From 2010 to 2019, the end of the study period, the average was up to 51 deaths per year.

Staying prepared and having a plan is a big key to safety. “Oftentimes it could be an administrative person just happens to be in the area or narcotics agents that’s around a school resource officer,” Swafford stated. “They don’t work together day in and day out. but when it’s time to respond, they have to have confidence in each other and they have to understand the tactics that we’re going to use.”

Morgan County conducted tactical first aid training and active shooter exercises to help them stay prepared for the unthinkable. “We started off the morning with tactical first aid, so that way our deputies will know how to treat somebody with a gunshot wound, but quickly continue to move to the threat,” Swafford explained. “Then at the end of the day, we put together multiple active shooter scenarios that they have to go through, and our instructors will grade them and critique them to make sure that they, you know, are getting where they need to be and getting there the right way.”

The publicity of recent shootings has been a tool used to continuously update their strategies. “So, whenever a school shooting happens, we take what we can see from the news we take, from the information that’s put out afterwards to see what happened, what took place. was that the right response? would we have responded that way? is there something new that we need to adjust for? So each one almost becomes a case study for us to learn from.

Swafford shared that having confidence in the plan is the key objective. “You know, schools are always on our mind, you know, they’re getting ready to ramp up,” Swafford added. “I guess with this training, the biggest thing that we want to come out of today is that our entire agency at any time can respond and respond appropriately.”

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