On Thursday, Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office took advantage of empty schools and held an active shooter training.
The intention was to better prepare and to keep kids safe by putting themselves right in the middle of the situation.
More than 30 law enforcement units parked outside Lemon Bay High School in Charlotte County, not something you see everyday … or want to.
“Nowadays, it couldn’t be something other than shooting,” said Lt. Jason Zakowich, Training Commander for Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office.
But on Thursday, the dozens of cruisers and SUVs were there for good.
Charlotte County School Resource Officers (SRO) and Punta Gorda Police do this every year.
“With everything going on, all the work that we have, it’s easy to forget the more prepared you offer something and know how to handle it that the smoother it’s going to go,” Zakowich said.
They do it at a different Charlotte County school each time.
“The SROs all have their assigned schools, and that’s where they stay,” said Jon Waterhouse, Juvenile commander, SRO. “But on a daily day, and when we, if you have someone sick, called sick, we have people cover other schools, so that’s why we’ve tried every year to pick a different school.”
They may be training, but the stakes are high.
“We put officers in situations that elevate their stress, elevate their heart rate and try to be more lifelike to train for an actual response,” Zakowich said.
Some officers play shooters and victims, injured and screaming for help, while others have to find them and put an end to the active threat.
“We treat all this as real as possible,” Waterhouse said.