TRAINING DAY: Active shooting exercises organized at West Carteret High School | New
CARTERET COUNTY — As a blank shotgun blast lights up a classroom, two law enforcement officers waste little time closing the gap on their target.
The recorded sounds of screams saturate the hallway, making communication difficult. With non-verbal cues and predetermined positioning, the team moves in tandem to prepare for a high-risk offense.
The officers are just some of the 150 personnel who took part in active fire training exercises held Tuesday July 26 and Thursday July 28 at West Carteret High School.
Law enforcement officers discussed tactics and received verbal instructions before putting their skills to the test in live-action scenarios that took place in school hallways and classrooms.
The intense training simulated dangerous real-life situations with hostages, victims, and attackers all coming from different backgrounds to volunteer for the role play.
Carteret County Sheriff Asa Buck took a few minutes between drills to outline the need for the training.
“We hope and pray that nothing ever happens in our schools like we’ve seen across the country,” Buck said. “If something were to happen, we want to be in the best possible position to respond and eliminate that threat as quickly and effectively as possible. It’s so important because we’re talking about protecting our most valuable assets and the people who are the most vulnerable in our society.
The exercise follows a recent announcement of an increased law enforcement presence at all 18 Carteret County schools by the start of the school year.
According to the Sheriff’s Office website, there are currently five Resource Officers employed in Carteret County serving approximately 7,800 students.
Having a law enforcement officer at each school would greatly increase student and faculty safety, Buck said.
“Just having that officer there eliminates your response time,” Buck said. “Even a minute seems like a long time when something serious is going on, so being able to have that law enforcement officer physically located in the school is really essential.”
In addition to officers having an increased presence in schools, Carteret County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Rob Jackson also spoke about creating a safer learning atmosphere with scale updates. county camera systems, exterior door controls and general security audits.
“We’re really investing in building safety, strengthening our schools, so to speak,” Jackson said. “Our children are so precious, and we all have a responsibility to protect them.”
At the end of Thursday’s training session, the instructors had time to review and evaluate each officer’s performance. From there, individual guidelines were given to increase the efficiency of each agent.
State and local agencies participating in the exercise included the North Carolina State Highway Patrol, Carteret Community College, Carteret County Public School System, Carteret County Sheriff’s Office, Beaufort Police Department, Dept. Morehead City Police Department, Newport Police Department, Emerald Isle Police Department and NC Marine. Patrol.