By Danza Johnson
TUPELO – Leaders with the Lee County Sheriff's Department say they hope mandatory training for deputies will save lives if a shooting incident occurs.
Sheriff Jim Johnson says his 44 deputies need to know how to handle tactical situations with shooters, especially with the tragedies at Northern Illinois University and a Chicago Lane Bryant store in the news.
Several deputies began the 16-hour “active shooter” training Tuesday at the Tupelo Furniture Market.
Even though the Lee County S.W.A.T. team is trained to handle these types of situations, Johnson said speciality training for first-responder deputies and police officers is important as they wait for S.W.A.T. to arrive.
Because public mass shootings have become so frequent over the past few years, Johnson said the training is a necessity.
“We want our guys to be prepared to handle things on the spot if an active shooter situation happens,” said Johnson. “Since Columbine, law enforcement has been trying to make sure that officers on the scene know what to do to save lives. The longer we have to wait for help to come, the more lives we stand to lose.”
Tony Carlton, Lee County Jail administrator and S.W.A.T. member, took the lead in the training. The furniture market was used, he said, because its vast space and hallways provide a layout similar to a school.
“We are teaching these guys how to work as a team during a shooting crisis,” said Carlton. “They are learning proper shooting positions and how to find a shooter in a school or mall or any populated area. We hope we never get a chance to use this training, but we want to at least know what to do if we one day have a shooting.”
Tupelo Police Maj. Anthony Hill said Tupelo has put many of its officers through the same training.
“It's just a good idea for every local agency to know how to handle these situations,” said Hill. “No one wants a mass shooting to happen, but if everyone is prepared for it, then we stand to save a lot more people.”
Contact Daily Journal law enforcement reporter Danza Johnson at 678-1583 or firstname.lastname@example.org.