Utah County Sheriff’s Office among those offering active shooter training to teachers
UTAH COUNTY — As details emerged from Tuesday’s school shooting in Texas that left 21 people — 19 children and two adults — dead, the ordeal struck an uncomfortably familiar chord.
“I shook my head like so many others,” said Utah County Sheriff’s Sgt. Spencer Cannon. “I said, ‘Not again!’”
The Robb Elementary School shooting — the deadliest of its kind in the U.S. since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012 — is a scenario local law enforcement has hoped will never play out in Utah.
Police, however, have underscored the importance of being prepared for that day if it does ever come. At the sheriff’s office, the preparation has come in the form of a Teacher’s Academy.
Cannon said the academy training sessions began in 2019 under Sheriff Mike Smith.
“The main purpose of the Teacher’s Academy is to familiarize people with some of the incidents that have happened across the country over the last 20 years or so, talk to them about strategies that they can use to respond should something like that happen, explain to them some techniques and things that they can use,” Cannon said.
The training offers everything from de-escalation tactics to self-defense and firearms training.
“We recognize that while we may have a very quick response, we won’t be there right from the very outset, and we want those who are there, those who are at greatest risk of becoming victims, to have some tools in their kit to be able to respond and improve the likelihood of a better outcome for them.”
The next academy begins on June 7 and is expected to run six weeks.
Cannon said the 30 spots that were open for the training have already been filled. He said the sheriff’s office would like to extend the training to more educators, but the academy is time and labor-intensive and budget-limited.
“If it ever came together someday in a way it could be conducted more frequently, then Sheriff Smith would love to do that,” Cannon said.
For now, Cannon said the sheriff’s office hopes to help ready as many educators as possible if the worst happens.
“You just think, there’s got to be something we can do about this,” Cannon said.
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