FAIRFIELD — Fairfield police officials say the department is prepared to respond to incidents such as Friday’s school shooting in Connecticut, though it’s training they hope never gets used.
Every Fairfield police officer on the street and on different assignments in the department receives regular active shooter training, Police Chief Walt Tibbet said. That means they learn how to work together to locate and stop a shooter.
He mentioned the 2011 shooting in a Green Valley home that left three people dead and one injured. The shooter shot and injured himself and later died, though officers didn’t know the situation when they responded. Tibbet said Fairfield used patrol officers only, something a lot of agencies would be unable to do.
The Police Department works with the school district, Tibbet said. That work extends from doing threat assessments to having resource officers at the high schools and one for the middle schools. Beat officers pay attention to all the campuses, including the elementary schools, he said.
Lt. Greg Hurlbut said the Police Department alerts a school a couple of times a year to an incident that police are dealing with nearby. That often leads to a lockdown at the school. The department doesn’t want criminal activity occurring in the area to spill over onto a campus, he said.
School resource officers at the high schools work with the schools to coordinate a response plan, Hurlbut said. Police have the layouts of schools, know where the keys are and know what systems are in place for locating students and parents.
Tibbet also stressed prevention. Often in school shooting cases, details later emerge about the shooter and the conflicts, threats and relationships that happened prior to the incident. People need to pay attention to these signs and report them early on, he said.
“That’s truly the way we’re going to prevent this,” Tibbet said.
Tibbet said the Fairfield Police Department provides its officers with the best training that exists in the nation as far as responding to an ongoing threat of violence or mass casualty.
“I feel we’re very well-prepared to respond to it,” Tibbet said. “I just hope we never have to.”
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