Tuesday evening at the Missoula County Schools business building, a group of teachers, administrators, trustees and law enforcement personnel heard a presentation on 'Active Response' by Captain Rob Taylor of the county sheriff's department.

Taylor began by walking through a brief history of mass shootings, from Columbine High School in Colorado, to Virginia Tech, to Trolley Square in Salt Lake City, Utah. Taylor said the old paradigm of officers arriving to secure a scene and waiting until the SWAT team could arrive, simply was no longer effective, because while officers waited, students were being shot and killed inside the building.

Since the concept of arming teachers is not being considered by the Missoula School District, law enforcement has proposed an active response concept that consists of "Run, Hide, Fight".

"A full shift of sheriff's deputies is six people, including the supervisor covering 2600 square miles containing over 100,000 people, so it can be difficult to get a timely response," Taylor said.

Safariland is a law enforcement training and supply company that is now offering a product called 'train the trainers' ,in which their personnel would come to Missoula to train selected law enforcement, school administrators and teachers. The cost to the district would be approximately $3500, or $350 per trainer attendee. These trainers would then fan out and instruct other school personnel.

Taylor introduced the Safariland training course with verbiage from their promotional literature.

"Armed intruder incidents in schools are increasing at an alarming rate. Innocent victims are falling prey to armed intruders with one goal in mind, and that's committing mass casualties. Historically, these events create victims in the first few seconds before the police have time to respond. The objective in this course is to train school administrators, teachers and staff with initial actions they can take to make a difference and potentially save lives in the crucial three to four minutes before police can arrive," Taylor recited.

Discussion following the presentation ranged from school administrators questioning the cost of the training and where the money might come from, to concerns over teacher pay while taking the training, to hearing an example of a local teacher who was already implementing common sense protections in her classroom.

Facilitator Ginny Tribe asked committee members to agree on a few core concepts. First, that action must be taken to make and keep schools more secure, and second, that first aid training be made available to all school employees, down to janitors and school crossing guards.

There will be another meeting of the school safety committee in May.

Captain Rob Taylor

Safariland Promo