BARTOW, Fla. — As the first day of school quickly approaches, safety is a top priority. Law enforcement agencies across the Tampa Bay area are preparing to keep students safe in the event of an active shooting.
“We pray that we never have to do it, but if it ever arises, we will not hesitate for a second,” said Bartow Police Deputy Chief Lauro Diaz.
It’s training they hope they never have to use, but the Bartow Police Department is prepared for an active shooter situation if it ever were to happen.
“We go inside. We make sure that we neutralize that threat immediately,” said Bartow Police Chief Bryan Dorman.
The police department conducted a two-day active shooter training at Bartow Middle School this week. The exercise, which also included fire and EMS personnel, took place at a school for the first time and incorporated critical response in light of the mass shooting in Uvalde.
“We no longer wait to hear shots fired. We’re actually going into the critical phase of it, which is making the entry. I think it’s less confusing for the men and women in law enforcement,” Diaz said.
The officers are presented with different active shooter scenarios and must determine how to respond and do so with speed and precision.
“We try to make it as real as possible during these training events. Get the stress levels up, get their heart rates up, get that tunnel vision going,” said Dorman.
Law enforcement agencies across Tampa Bay are holding active shooter drills ahead of the new school year, including Hillsborough County SWAT team, which is training school resource deputies this week.
“This is specifically for them to address an active shooter if they were in the school by themselves,” said Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Donna Lusczynski.
For the first time, the Pinellas County School District is using the Alert platform, which incorporates all the systems they already have in place. With school safety top of mind for many parents, officials are making sure they get it right.
“You can rest assured if you have a child in the school in the City of Bartow, no stone will be left unturned when we’re going to get in there. We’re getting in there as quick as we can,” said Dorman.