Jenks Public Schools Practice Active Shooting Scenario

Thursday, April 3rd 2014, 2:32 pm
By: Emory Bryan

A Jenks Public School building was on lockdown Thursday morning as part of disaster drill-training exercise by Jenks Public School Police.

The school invited dozens of first responder agencies to watch as Jenks School Police and other local law enforcement personnel practiced handling an active shooter situation inside the school.

Usually that sort of thing is outside of school hours, but Thursday's happened while students were at school. The reason for that was to engage some of the students as actors, and also to let administrators know what to expect when law enforcement comes in.

Armed officers evacuated the injured from the hallways of Jenks High School. The scenario was two armed intruders and 15 fatalities.

As part of the exercise, officers went into the building with guns drawn to practice how to respond and evacuate students and staff before the simulated threat situation had been resolved.

Jenks Public School Police Chief Jack Myers said the training will be held if there is ever a real situation.

"In that training, it's getting first responders into a scene once there is a secure area, so we can get first aid in and medical assistance to the people who need it. Whereas before, the scene had to be completely stabilized," said Police Chief Jack Myers.

What used to be unthinkable is now what officers have to plan for.

Major Paul Rinkel, Jenks Police: "It's important that we do think about that," said Major Paul Rinkel with Jenks Police. "The safety of the children depends on us being able to think and pre-plan what could occur."

Jenks Police and Fire were the first responders, with backup from nearby agencies, as it would really happen in a fast moving situation.

But dozens of other agencies were watching. They're hoping to take some lessons home.

Chief Chuck Foley with Mustang Police, said, "And we actually have to close our eyes and minds to the number of injured. Our job is not to minister to the injured; our job is to neutralize the threat, the armed combatants that are our opposition in the building. So we want the administration and the public to know we're going to take some time to make this building as safe as we possibly can."

Drills like this test communication and new skills. In this case, officers wanted to try out a relatively new practice of evacuating the injured while the threat continues.

Chief Jack Myers with Jenks School Police, said, "It's getting first responders into a scene once there's been some secure areas, so we can get some first aid in."

As the Jenks officers practiced for the real thing, they were under scrutiny for their performance. Every step will be evaluated.

Jennifer Newell, Oklahoma School Security Institute: "And it's important, because, you can write down policies and procedures, but if you don't practice, you'll lose them. In law enforcement we refer to muscle memory, and that's what you want to have," said Jennifer Newell with the Oklahoma School Security Institute.

Several of the first responders who were watching are planning their own exercises this summer.

Officials say the Thursday's drill is driven by previous school incidents across the U.S. and how Jenks Schools and its police department can plan for this type of worse case scenario.