Clark County Sheriff Deborah Burchett outside Kuss Auditorium Thursday. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Clark County wants residents to prepare to respond to active shooter

The Clark County Sheriff’s Office plans to hold civilian training to teach residents what to do in the case of an active shooter.

The threat of a mass shooter has always been at the top of Springfield and Clark County law enforcement minds, according to their leaders, but the recent Dayton shooting where two people among those killed were from Springfield has prompted even more awareness.

In the hours after last Sunday’s Dayton mass shooting, which killed nine people and injured nearly 40 more, Clark County Sheriff Deb Burchett said she received a phone call from NAACP President Denise Williams asking her if the sheriff’s office was ready in case tragedy struck here.

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“I had a good conversation with our sheriff and chief and asked them if we as a community are ready when it hits our city directly,” Williams said. “They assured me they were.”

But that phone call prompted another question for Clark County Sheriff Deb Burchett. Do residents know what to do in the event of an active shooter?

“I sat down with my majors and everyone and decided what we are going to do is put on on active shooter training for anyone interested in going,” she said. “And it’s all going to be free.”

Burchett said deputies will provide training at the Kuss Auditorium Sept. 5 at 5:30 p.m., Johnny Lytle Theater on Sept. 7 at 2 p.m. and Tecumseh High School on Sept. 21 at 2 p.m. Additionally, there will be another training at Kuss Auditorium on Sept. 12 if there is enough interest, she said.

“We are going to do this as many times as it takes to get the community in touch with this,” Burchett said.

Anyone is welcome to attend the training and no pre-registration is necessary.

The training events and conversations are examples of how the Springfield and Clark County community are responding to the Dayton shooting — a violent attack in Dayton’s popular Oregon District by Connor Betts, 24, of Bellbrook. He was killed by Dayton police within a minute of the incident starting.

Derrick Fudge, 57, a Springfield man, and Monica Brickhouse, 39, a Springfield native, were killed in the shooting.

“My prayers and thoughts go out to the family of the victims and to our community,” Williams said. “We need to be in much prayer.”

Free Training

Burchett said her office is ready for an active shooter and her deputies are trained to respond to a crisis.

“Our guys have been trained in different situations as far as active shootings,” she said.

She said her deputies have equipment that can combat body armor and other weapons. They also have protocols that dictate that the first deputy that responds to an active shooter scene should go in and try to neutralize the threat. This is different from previous practices that advised law enforcement to wait for back up.

But, having a citizen population that knows what to do in case of a shooting can be valuable — especially when a split-second decision can be the difference of life or death. So the Clark County Sheriff’s Office, Clark State Community College and Tecumseh High School are teaming up to provide the free training to residents interested in learning how to increase chances of survival.

Burchett said the training will include a lot of information about what to do in the case of an active shooter. But, the main thing people should remember is to try not to panic and to realize that sometimes running away isn’t the best course of action.

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“Nothing is full proof and we all know that. But if people have some sort of training, it is possible that it could save a life,” Burchett said. “After taking this training, maybe someone will stop during a situation and react better than they would before.”

Springfield police and the DORA

The City of Springfield is working hard to develop downtown into a place people want to come and enjoy during the evening — much like what the Oregon District is for Dayton.

So when a shooter unexpectedly opened fire on a crowd early Sunday morning, it was a clear example of how important safety is when developing entertainment districts.

“Obviously, safety is a concern,” Springfield Mayor Warren Copeland said. “We haven’t yet come up with a full proof solution and I don’t think we’re alone. The Oregon District is a valuable attraction for the city of Dayton. You are bringing in a bunch of people together and you have someone who basically is sick and wants to kill people — that’s the place to go to do it.

“It’s a significant concern,” he said. “I’m not sure if anybody has come up with a solution.”

The city of Springfield recently created a designated outdoor recreational area in downtown Springfield. Essentially, the area allows patrons to move about downtown while holding alcohol without risk of being charged with open container violations. To promote buying drinks at Springfield downtown establishments, the patrons must purchase and drink from a cup from one of the downtown vendors.

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But on a busy Saturday evening or Sunday morning in Springfield, are police ready to respond to an active shooter?

“Our officers are trained in active shooter training and we have some equipment like rifles for situations when a handgun may not be the appropriate weapon,” Springfield Police Chief Lee Graff said.

The Springfield police division has officers with SWAT training and other experiences that know what to do in the case of an active shooter. He also said Springfield police have proven to be quick at responding to active shooter threats — including once at the Springfield High School earlier this year.

In that case, someone from inside the school called 9-1-1 with the fear there was an active shooter. There wasn’t, a loud noise was made after a student punched a locker during a large fistfight. But police didn’t know that at the time.

“Our response has been very good. We had eight squad cars there inside two minutes and school resources officers were there,” Graff said.

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Springfield police also have protocols that say the first officer on scene should attempt to stop the shooter.

Graff also noted that Springfield police are constantly in charge of securing and patrolling popular events in the city like the Springfield Food Truck Rally and Culture Fest. There are multiple events that bring many people into the city, and Springfield police are always prepared.

“We are confident that we are ready to act if a situation does arise,” the chief said.

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