Liberty County Sheriff’s Office deputies are instructed in how to save lives through quick response by participating in a department-wide active-shooter training exercise each year. The LCSO held its training for 45-50 deputies this week at the shoot house on Fort Stewart’s installation range.
“Safety, safety, safety,” LCSO Capt. David Edwards reminded deputies as they went through their paces, some playing the role of armed “bad guys” while others stormed into each shoot house room confronting the would-be suspects. At times, a shotgun was used to gain entry through a locked door by blowing off the door handle.
Edwards said deputies organize themselves into a stacking formation when confronting an active shooter, meaning one officer goes in first, with others rapidly following behind, fanning out. The goal is to neutralize the threat (make the suspects lay down their guns) and “clear” an area, he said.
“Once a room is cleared, they reorganize and continue on,” Edwards said.
The LCSO went through a Simunition training first and then conducted a live-fire exercise. Simunition involves the use of non-lethal ammunition, like a rubber blank, which can deliver “a sting” but no injury, LCSO Chief Deputy Keith Moran said. Live fire involves real ammunition.
Edwards, Lt. Keith Jenkins and Sgt. Shawn Fields are the LCSO in-house instructors who put their fellow deputies through their paces. Jenkins said for some, this will be as close as they’ll get to live fire. Edwards stressed the training prepares everyone in the department, from patrol officers to courtroom security to deputies who serve legal papers, for incidents of real-world violence. He said each deputy will “rotate” tasks during active-shooter training so each officer becomes familiar with the jobs assigned to everyone else.
Moran said the policy for approaching an active shooter has changed in recent years. He said this new strategy of quick reaction has been found more proficient in saving lives.
Liberty County Sheriff Steve Sikes said his department could not conduct this level of training locally if not for the cooperation of Fort Stewart. Sikes said having the use of the Army’s shoot house is another example of the collaboration between Fort Stewart and local law enforcement.
The two-story shoot house walls are constructed of durablock material, which is made from recycled rubber tires, so the walls can absorb the shock of ammunition and safely contain live fire within the facility, Edwards said.