Sheriff opens active shooter training to public

Posted at 10:38 PM, Dec 04, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-04 23:38:31-05

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Okla. -- The mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., created another push for preparedness here in Green Country.

The rampage made Sheriff Rick Silver in Washington County recognize an oversight. His deputies may train extensively to react to active shooting situations, but almost everyone else does not.

"It just caused us to start thinking we're not immune from something like that happening here," Sheriff Silver said. "I think we have an obligation as an organization to give that training to citizens in the community if we can."

He decided Thursday to make a post on Facebook. He wrote that the sheriff's office would start offering active shooter training to any group that wanted it, and the response was immediate.

"I've been answering phone calls all day and emails," the sheriff explained.

Lanny Smith, the senior pastor at Town & Country Christian Church in Bartlesville, got in touch with the sheriff soon after seeing the social media post.

"I thought it was a great idea, and it was needed," Smith said. "It sounded like it would meet a need that I had been concerned about for quite some time."

Smith already set up a time next month for the sheriff to meet with his congregation.

"We don't have a plan," he said, "so it would be good for us to get some information so that we can begin to develop a plan to protect our members in the event of an active shooter or crisis."

The training will be less like the tactical response that many law enforcement agencies practice from time to time. Silver said it will instead focus more on discussions about survival.

"If something like this happens in a business or an organization, you've got to be willing to fight," he said. "You've got to be willing to do whatever you've got to do to save yourself."

Just one day after his Facebook post, the sheriff's calendar is starting to fill up.

"We've already got people scheduled through February, actually," he said.

The sheriff said it's sad to offer this kind of service to the community, but it's important to be prepared.

"Hopefully it's something that we're going to offer to people, and they're never going to use it."

Churches, businesses, schools or any other organizations that want to schedule a training session should call the Washington County Sheriff's Office at 918-332-4000.

Similar classes are being offered by other law enforcement agencies, including the Muskogee Police Department.


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