WALTERS, OK (KSWO) - With active shooter incidents on the rise in the past 10 years, law enforcement agencies have been better training themselves to deal with the threat.
Cotton County Sheriff's Office is hosting a training operation this week to teach officers how to respond to an active shooter when they are responding alone or with a partner. This is the second year they held this training session.
Other law enforcement agencies have sent their officers to Walters to get a hands-on experience with these deadly incidents. In active shooter situations, officers are trained to work as a team, and to respond with four or more officers at a time, but not every agency can get out there with a team.
They are in a race against the clock, and this class shows how just one officer can save lives.
Instructor Manuel Holland, who is a patrol officer at Northeastern State University, sends the officers through the drills. They will enter the building simulation alone with the goal of neutralizing the threat without harming any civilians. The only thing that they know is there is an active shooter in one of the rooms with a shotgun.
Holland came to Walters to teach this class at the request of Cotton County Sheriff Kent Simpson, and it's not costing taxpayers a thing.
"When you have these small counties like we are, and the funds are not available to do what you want to do," said Simpson. "It's a blessing to be able to send your officers to classes that will actually save people's lives."
Holland teaches smaller agencies who can't wait for a back-up officer, how to deal with these situations on their own. In active shooter incidents, one person dies every 15 seconds.
"Time is what we are working against," said Holland.
Holland says he has seen that firsthand as a first responder in Fort Gibson, Oklahoma, where a student took a gun to school and started shooting more than 15 years ago.
He says one teacher got the student to drop the gun.
"And that's what this program is based on," said Holland. "If we have one person that's there that can do something, it's better than waiting on three or four people to get there and wasting that time that that one person could be doing something to make a difference."
The last day of training is Wednesday, and Holland says they will be in a building with air-soft guns and an officer acting as the shooter. That's where they really put everything they have learned from the past couple of days into action. Sheriff Simpson says they hope to hold another class in the fall so they can spread more of the training that could save lives to more officers.