Law Enforcement Encouraging People to Participate in Active Shooter Training

The sheriff says he and his staff have done about 70 presentations and he wants the number one takeaway for people to be "react, don't freeze." KMSP Fox 9 reporter Paul Blume reports from Barron County, Wisconsin

BARRON COUNTY, Wis. — A Wisconsin sheriff is encouraging active shooter training after Sunday’s massacre at a Texas church.

The shooting took the lives of 25 people and an unborn child.

“If the shooter is not by you, you should always run,” said Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald, who is with Barron County in Wisconsin. “Run is what we teach.”

Sheriff Fitzgerald and his staff conduct active shooter training seminars across the region, in workplaces of all types and sizes, including schools and churches.

They try to make it as realistic as possible with airsoft guns and cushioned rubber balls to mimic life and death situations.

“It can happen anywhere at anytime,” said Fitzgerald. “That’s why even in Barron County, Wisconsin, in northwest Wisconsin, in Minnesota, you have to be prepared at any one moment. It’s sad to talk about, but it’s the reality. We need to keep talking about it and keep practicing.”

Six months ago, the sheriff’s office brought its Powerpoint and simulation drills to Red Cedar Church in Rice Lake.

On Sunday, a gunman stormed a Baptist church in a tiny Texas town, killing more than two dozen.

“Hopefully, churches are a place for people to find the love of Jesus Christ,” said Pastor Craig Rayment.

Pastor Rayment says the church wanted staff and volunteers to be prepared for any and all emergencies that might happen inside a worship hall that hosts some 1,300 members for a typical weekend.

He explained there are now organized team leaders and people willing to step up in communication roles to get people out of the building as quickly as possible.

“We don’t live in fear, but we want to be prepared and care for the people that come,” Rayment said. “Just be ready.”

As for the sheriff’s active shooter program, it’s based on a national curriculum that stresses spreading the word quickly about the threat.

The who, what, where, then providing people with the tools to react without hesitation, knowing that seconds count.

“When the shooter, when it’s the last resort, we teach fighting,” said Fitzgerald. “Not some ninja skills or anything. Throw the stapler, the fire extinguisher, the coffee cup…whatever it is. Whatever you need to do to survive.”

The active shooter training offered in Barron County is free of charge.

The sheriff says he and his staff have done about 70 presentations and he wants the number one takeaway for people to be “react, don’t freeze.”

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