To prepare for an active shooter incident, the UNT Police Department, Denton Police Department and Denton Fire Department trained together at the end of August to protect UNT students in the event of a threat.
The training included practicing multiple plans on how to react to active shooter scenarios based on crowd size, location and other related factors, Sergeant Kevin Crawford of UNT PD said.
“We plan for the worst and hope for the best,” David Boots, a DFD public information officer, said. “And that’s the ugly truth of it.”
These agencies focused on identifying warning signs, improving their skills and practicing together to respond appropriately.
Crawford said the training required weeks of planning and volunteers to help enact a real active shooter scenario.
“I feel like it’s sad that they have to work on [training] at all, but that it’s better to be safe than sorry,” biology freshman Alaina Drouin said. “So, I’m glad they’re preparing.”
Crawford said a new addition to the training this year was collaborating the Denton Fire Department to see how the fire department could provide additional support in case of an emergency.
“Now, in years past, it’s always been the police going in first and then letting fire and EMS in much later into the incident,” Boots said. “And unfortunately, a lot of people bled out that could’ve been saved. And now we’re rethinking that process. We’re sending firefighters and paramedics in with the officers as soon as we can to go in and help take care of those victims.”
The Denton Fire Department often works with UNT PD, Denton PD, Texas Women’s University PD and the sheriff’s department, Boots said.
“It is important to have law enforcement and first responder agencies that are prepared,” Crawford said. “As we train together, we improve our collaboration, professionalism and help keep the Denton and UNT community safe. It gave us skills preparation for our officers that expand their ability to protect our community.”
According to Crawford, on their own, UNT police officers have at least two trainings a year that focus on active shooter incidents.
UNT PD also currently offers an active shooter instructional class for students that they have hosted every fall semester for the last couple of years. Crawford said the UNT PD is hoping to host the next class at the end of this September.
“No one thinks it’s going to happen to their campus until it actually happens,” Drouin said. “I think that there should be opportunities to learn about it like classes or Stop the Bleed sessions. I just think times for classes should be flexible or conveniently placed.”
Drouin said offering these classes would give students the choice, so only students who are comfortable participating would take the class and this would prepare a portion of the students on campus if an active shooter incident actually happens.
“Training such helps us improve ourselves and the department,” Crawford said. “It’s less about personal feelings and more about doing what is right to ensure we protect our community.”
To keep UNT PD prepared, they also train for other emergency situations, Crawford said. In May, they worked with law enforcement and emergency responders from Denton County on responding to the threat of a bomb at Apogee Stadium.
“As we get to know our counterparts more, it allows us a chance to talk with them more regularly so we can identify other ways to keep our community safe,” Crawford said. “Training is an essential part of preparing for a worst case scenario. We want our officers prepared ahead of time.”
With protocols in place for the active shooter training, Crawford said they must be contained in the police department to keep from being exploited by possible criminals.
Boots said the Denton Fire Department, Denton PD, and UNT PD plan on continuing the training together in the future, however he is unsure of how often it will be.
“We work well with each other,” Boots said. “And the more that we can train with each other, the better off we’re all going to be.”
Featured Illustration: Jeselle Farias