Captain Ken Washington
Captain Ken Washington conducting a recent active shooter training class
By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer
(Walhalla, SC)————————————–Recently, the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office has been conducting a series of Active Shooter Training meetings with employees of Oconee County as well as other businesses, organizations and churches in the County.
With recent and past active shooter incidents in the minds of everyone due to recent media coverage, Captain Ken Washington of the Special Operations Division of the Sheriff’s Office says that the time is now rather than later for individuals to become aware of what to do during active shooter situations.
“The Sheriff’s Office was requested to do a series of active shooter meetings after several incidents that have occurred,” according to Captain Washington. “These businesses and organizations are being pro-active in looking out for their employees and law enforcement can come in and point out potential security risks for them.”
An active shooter is defined as an individual(s) actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area. In most cases, firearm(s) are used but any other item can be used as a weapon. There is also no pattern of selected victims and anyone in their path can be a victim.
Active shooters situations are nothing new and can be traced back to incidents that occurred back in the 1960’s. The Sheriff’s Office has conducted this type of training and meetings in the past but with active shooter incidents that have occurred in the 2015, including in the Palmetto State, an extra emphasis by businesses and organizations has been placed on this type of training.
“With expanded media coverage, I think people are becoming more and more aware of potential dangers that exist,” continues Captain Washington.
The presentation that the Sheriff’s Office offers is open to all citizens and businesses of Oconee County and involves not only the facts and statistics of active shooter incidents but also what citizens should look for regarding the modus operandi of an active shooter and what to do should that situation present itself. The Sheriff’s Office also showed video packages of certain active shooting incidents and reviewed many of the past active shooting incidents that have occurred in the United States.
The Sheriff’s Office would like to remind everyone that the evolution of an active shooter situation usually has some type of signposts along the way and those who commit these crimes don’t just snap in some cases.
Part of the training involves what individuals should do if they become involved in an active shooter situation. Incidents evolve quickly and are usually over by the time law enforcement and emergency personnel arrive. Law enforcement advises individuals to remain calm as possible and provide as much information to dispatchers as possible. Usually, a response from those inside involves either sheltering in place, finding an escape if possible or perhaps if circumstances arise, fighting and taking some type of action in dealing with the active shooter.
“When an individual is faced with an active shooter situation, it really depends on the situation and where they are in terms of what they should do,” continues Captain Washington. “If you can avoid a situation and you hear shooting occurring in another part of the building and you can get out, that is what we recommend or if you can hide, that is another recommendation. But, if you are caught in the middle of it, the situation you are in may dictate what you do at that moment.”
When officers do arrive, make entry and go about the work of clearing the building and evaluating those who are injured or dead, law enforcement reminds those inside to cooperate with those responders, listen and follow their commands and pointing out the location of the shooter. Also, individuals must realize that everyone is a suspect until officers can make the assessment otherwise and those inside should not scream or grab officers.
Also as part of the training, the Sheriff’s Office offers a risk assessment study, in which deputies will conduct a security survey of the building and property to point any potential weaknesses or issues that could potentially put people at risk.
“The Sheriff’s Office goes to the facility for the risk assessment and we will sit down with the administration and we have a checklist of things that we look for,” says Captain Washington. “We compile a lot of items we take a look at both inside and outside the facility and we go over that information with them and we provide recommendations to them, both good and bad, and we do recommend changes to them to help keep their employees and property safe and secure.”
The risk assessments are not released to anyone except to the companies and organizations for which such assessments are done due to potential trade secret violations and for safety concerns.
If your business, church or organization would like for the Sheriff’s Office to conduct Active Shooter Training classes where you are, contact Sgt. Mike McGowan at 864-638-2017.
“The message we are trying to get across is that no one is immune and regardless of the part of the world you live in, this has happened in many places and can happen in Oconee county,” says Captain Washington. “We are going to continue to teach and offer this training and these classes and we are currently getting and accepting these requests.”