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Denton police hold active shooter training for local churches, residents

Denton police hold active shooter training for local churches, residents

Denton police hold active shooter training for local churches, residents
August 23
10:00 2018

Early in the morning, just a short time after dawn, residents of Denton and the surrounding areas gathered at Denton Bible Church’s Student Ministry Center — not for service, however, but for a seminar.

While the seminar may look similar to other events, the key difference this time is the number of police who stood off to the side next to booths advertising security services.

This event that all these people have gathered so early in the morning for is the Denton Police Department’s Crime Prevention Seminar, which focused on training for active-shooter situations this year.

“In 2013, I started our first crime prevention conference, and it was open to everyone but was mainly [for] places of worship,” said Shane Kizer, public information officer for the Denton Police Department and organizer for the event. “Basically, we saw a need to help [churches] learn how to instill some crime prevention in their places of worship. Each conference we’ve changed — we have different information and we don’t regurgitate the same information each time.”

The main goal of the event was to provide many different resources for those in the area who wanted to know more about protecting themselves. To achieve this goal, the event gathered many speakers with experience in the area, such as Officer Greg Stevens, who stopped a terrorist attack in Garland back in 2015.

While the seminar was organized by the police department and was free and open to the public, there were other services given to those who attended the early morning meeting. Partners for the event, such as the Denton Bible Church — where the event was hosted — also provided raffle gifts and a continental breakfast.

The police department has been organizing this seminar for three years now, with each year’s main topic changing to allow repeat visitors to learn new things. Organizers have had to put on a second event earlier this year due to the demand.

Each event is ran mostly by the police department’s volunteer group, rather than taking away police resources.

“When I first came to Denton my priest suggested that I go to the academy, and I was just so impressed with our police department, I really want[ed] to help them,” said Betty Peters, a volunteer at the event. “It is a sad state of events that we even have to have this event, but this is our third year.”

While the event was open to the public and touted as a non-religious event despite the chosen venue, most of those attending the seminar came from Denton-area churches and religious organizations. The rest of the audience was mostly comprised of law enforcement officials and various people who had heard about the event through other means.

There were a total of six speakers for the event covering a range of topics, from the survival mindset needed when in active shooter situations to those with legal advice for organizations that wish to have their own security force. Because the event was mostly attended by churches, most of the speakers spoke in a way that catered toward these groups, such as reciting Bible verses.

Many of the speakers aimed to acknowledge the feelings of the audience toward guns and the need to take action in these dangerous situations, while also providing realistic advice they had to learn from first-hand experience in similar situations. Whether it was a lethal solution to the problem of an active shooter or a non-lethal solution, most of the speakers stressed the need to practice and have a concise plan.

Speaker Bryan Wilkinson, a combat and tactics instructor with 19 years on the force, was one of the speakers at the event and talked great lengths about the ways to deal with an active shooter situation or another terrorist act. While he thinks people who are comfortable enough carrying guns and who are able to practice enough to be proficient with them, he also conveyed that even those who didn’t want to carry guns should instead learn how to apply a tourniquet. Wilkinson’s reasoning was based on how many people die in these situations because of how long it takes medical and police personnel to get to the scene.

“I am a supporter of the Second Amendment, but if you are going to carry a gun, that is a huge responsibility you have to take on — not only for yourself, but for everybody else around you,” Wilkinson said. “I think everyone should have something to stop the bleeding and something to pack a wound. I carry this everywhere I go — it is enhancing your survivability no matter what. So really to me, it is no different from being in a church or being in a school. As long as the equipment is there and the right people have the right training, it is going to save lives.”

Another key point of emphasis by both Wilkinson and many of the other speakers was the need to practice their skills regularly, especially if one wanted to carry a gun and use it in these intense situations. The type of training encouraged was not only the usual training under controlled conditions, but also conditions with added pressure so not to  falter during a real and stressful situation.

One of the other major pieces of advice emphasized by Greg Schaffer, one of the event’s speakers and a former member of the FBI’s hostage rescue team, was the need for people to not hide in active shooter events. The reason for this is due to the fact that most people are shot from only 18 inches away while they are trying to hide under a desk or a table. Schaffer’s solution to this is either to run, which lowers a shooter’s chance to hit you to 4 percent, barricade yourself in a room or attack the gunman with others.

Though the event ended up running long, many visitors saw value in the seminar and the speaker’s topics. Attendees also described an interest in coming back for the next event.

“I am actually from the Austin area but my dad lives up in this area,” Orrin Deaver, a visitor to the event, said. “He has been to some of these in the past, so he invited me up. For something that you don’t have to pay anything to attend, it has definitely met and exceeded expectations. The stress to train was definitely important.”

Featured Image: Denton police officer Shane Kizer gives a lecture on what to do in the event of an active shooter. Jessika Hardy

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Shane Monaco

Shane Monaco

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