Liberty County law enforcement officers gather for active shooter training

An instructor with ALERRT explains some of the tactics law enforcement personnel can use to enter a room and exit into a hallway during an active shooter scenario. Pictured looking on are Pct. 5 Deputy Constable Laci Pierce, Pct. 3 Deputy Constable Maritza Cespedes and Liberty County Sheriff's Sgt. Travis Pierce.

Two dozen Liberty County law enforcement officers participated in an active shooter training on Jan. 5 that was organized by Pct. 5 Constable David Hunter and Pct. 5 Deputy Constable Laci Pierce, and held at Tarkington High School.

This training is part of the increasing emphasis placed on school districts and law enforcement nationwide to provide active shooter response education to be prepared for real-life scenarios. The deadly shooting at Uvalde ISD in May 24, 2022, has only escalated the push for all law enforcement personnel to receive this training.

“Our job is to keep our community as safe as we can. Keeping our kids safe is a main priority for us. It’s important to us to do training in our schools in particular here in Tarkington,” said Constable Hunter, adding that the skills learned during the two-day training will better protect students, teachers and staff at all the school districts throughout the area.

The training was provided by instructors through ALERRT (Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training), a curriculum program created in 2002 through a partnership with Texas State University, San Marcos Police Department and the Hays County Sheriff’s Office. According to ALERRT, the training was named the National Standard in Active Shooter Response Training by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) in 2013.

During the two-day course, law enforcement officers go through a half-day of classroom instruction, a half-day of drills, and then a day of simulator shooting.

One aspect that is not covered in training is negotiating with the active shooters. Hunter said negotiation is not an option due to the nature of school shootings, even if hostages are involved.

“As long as there is an active shooter, there is a threat and there is no negotiation. We push forward until that threat is eliminated,” he said.

Hunter praised Deputy Constable Laci Pierce for helping to organize the training session. In addition to securing the training and participants, Pierce organized the donation of food and drinks.

These businesses and individuals sponsored the training: Cook Construction provided pulled pork sandwiches for lunch on Thursday, Nathan Riley is providing gumbo lunch on Friday, District Attorney Jennifer Bergman Harkness is sponsoring breakfast for Friday, Walmart in Cleveland provided water and Gatorade, and Constable Hunter provided “crimefighter power biscuits,” also known as doughnuts, on Thursday.

The active shooter training is the first of this year. However, several other law enforcement agencies and school districts in Liberty County underwent their own active shooter training events last year. Liberty Police Department and Liberty ISD organized a training for LPD officers, and District Attorney Jennifer Bergman Harkness arranged training that was open to all local and neighboring law enforcement officers. The DA’s office held its active shooter scenarios at Cleveland ISD.

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