BHS holds active shooter drill

Published 9:08 am Wednesday, August 17, 2022

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The Decatur County Board of Education held a work session on Monday evening, where Superintendent Tim Cochran addressed school safety.

Cochran held an unannounced active shooter drill at Bainbridge High School during the teacher workweek. Cochran informed Board members that he had not warned the Sheriff’s Office or Bainbridge Public Safety, only Steve Caulder, who was also posing as an active shooter. Cochran’s reasoning behind this was to allow the drill to be as realistic as possible.

He and Caulder donned ski masks and used air horns to mimic an assault rifle on the day of the drill. Caulder and Cochran had already concocted a plan, but when they arrived to BHS, the band was practicing. Cochran acted as an active shooter on the band field, while Caulder went inside and barricaded himself, pretending to shoot two teachers before he was eventually caught. Prior to “shooting” the teacher Caulder saw in the hallway, he allowed her to signal the front office and police on her alert badge. She then was given a card, notifying her she had been one of the 10 shot in the active shooter drill.

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Initially, the school police did not realize there were two shooters, which is what led to 10 teachers being shot in the drill.

One of the main factors in the drill was a teacher’s door being left unlocked. This allowed Caulder to hide out in her classroom, before he took out Officer Leroy Akins in the drill.

Once Akins was “shot,” Bainbridge Public Safety arrived on scene, however they did not have a master key are were unable to get inside. Cochran explained this was part of the drill and he was aware they did not have a master key, yet. He is currently working to cut a key for BPS, as well as the Decatur County Sheriff’s Office. In the event of a real active shooter, BPS would bust the glass doors down.

“I did that intentionally, because I wanted to see what they would do,” Cochran said. “Eric Duke was able to come in through the back of the school and take down the shooter.”

Cochran said the entire event, from the first person shot, lasted 14 minutes.

Following the scenario, Cochran, Caulder, the Decatur County School Police, BPS and the DCSO held a debriefing, where they shared what could have been done differently.

“There was a lot of good things we learned from that about mapping and administration maintaining vigilance on cameras,” Cochran explained. “We have cameras in the front office, so they could’ve barricaded themselves in the front office and watched the cameras, sharing their information with law enforcement in real time.”

Following the active shooter drill, the Decatur County School Police went through an additional training with Bainbridge Public Safety called ALERRT, or Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training, where they learned how to respond tactically. They will attend two additional trainings in October and November, where they will have live simulations and continue learning how to respond to events of this nature. Cochran then opened the floor up to questions about the drill.

Board Member Mike Conder asked if this would be something the elementary and primary schools would be partaking in as well. Cochran said he plans to host an unannounced drill during every in-session, or teacher workweek.

Conder also asked the important question of what is the school system doing to account for every student in the event something like this happens.Cochran shared that during this drill, they did not carry all the way through, but they have intentions to do so during January.

Until then, staff who have participated in the Stop the Bleed training will be taking part in a refresher course, while those who never partook in the training will do so with the help of Misty Griffin and BPS.

Cochran said once that is complete, they will do a complete active shooter run through, where they clear the building and respond to injuries. Conder was glad to hear this, but still was curious if there was a way to have students meet somewhere, so they could all be accounted for.

“The thing I think most schools struggle with is assembly points to release them to the parents,” Conder said. “If we had 1,200 kids at school that day, then we need to make sure all 1,200 are accounted for after it’s all said and done.”

Cochran agreed that is a major issue, especially in the scenario he and Caulder ran through.

“If I was really shooting on the band field, kids would have scattered and run into the woods, which is what they are supposed to do,” Cochran said.

Conder also asked how quickly the badges responded in the scenario, and if anyone on the band field was able to alert people inside.

Cochran said during the drill, the first person to alert others was Shyla Bryant, who was located inside the building, and it worked in a matter of seconds.

Chief Maurice Gaines spoke on behalf of the School Police and thanked the Board for sending he and his fellow officers to the additional ALERRT training, as well as providing them the necessary safety equipment and additional staff for all of the school system. The work session concluded with Cochran sharing that students at every grade level will undergo a practice lockdown before the end of August.