Both Spokane police and sheriff's deputies said, in the wake of Friday's shooting in Newtown, Conn., they are ready to respond to and stop a school shooting in our area.
On Friday, patrol officers from the Spokane Police Department spent more time cruising around elementary campuses while seven school resource deputies assigned to schools in Spokane Valley and unincorporated areas boosted their visibility as well.
Spokane law enforcement agencies first began preparing for on-campus shootings after the Columbine massacre in 1999, and those preparations were put into action at Lewis and Clark High School in 2003, when a student barricaded himself after firing a shot in his classroom.
They have also conducted training exercises at local schools to hone their skills in dealing with on-campus threats. That training will continue in the coming year.
"Next June, 2013, we will test the entire system from response, the hospital all the way to the medical examiner. We do that so we are prepared," Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said.
During an active shooter scenario police officers and sheriff's deputies won't wait for swat team before heading inside to stop the gunman. They go straight into to neutralize the threat.
"Pre-Columbine you were waiting for SWAT to come with their heavy weapons. Now, street officers have them, they train regularly with the team so you have the ability to bring in the heavier weapons right off the bat," Spokane Police Chief Frank Straub said.
In Spokane's case that means a 12-gauge shotgun and an AR-15.
"The AR is an offensive weapon compared to the handgun, which is a defensive weapon. The sighting system on the AR is considerably better they are way more accurate at range at distance," Sergeant Jay McNall with the Spokane County Sheriff's Office said.
All the firepower in the world can't stop someone from formulating a plan to shoot innocent children, and Sheriff Knezovich thinks society and the media can play a role in prevention
"One thing I hope the media does, I hope they focus themselves on the victims and they don't give this guy, the murderer his 15 minutes of fame. They need to not recognize this animal, they need to focus on those victims," Knezovich said.