As I read of the response to the Florida school shooting I am sickened by the lack of action by some of the law enforcement on scene. I have had multiple calls from parents and some students concerned about our policy for an active shooter response. I am not afraid to let everyone know our policy is for the officer to enter and engage, the SRO is to engage the threat, period no question, do not wait. Our goal is to make anyone who has decided to hurt out children, focus on us, armed and trained officers, allowing less injury to innocent children and faculty. Will that prevent all injury? No, unfortunately not, but it will make for less injured. The intruder may in fact shoot, injure or kill the first officer, maybe the second, but not the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th etc. In the meantime they are shooting at us not defenseless children. My Erwin PD SRO officers are active shooter instructors, they wear body armor and are trained. They are required a higher shooting score to remain in that position, they have rifle plate armor and long gun access if needed. They are trained in cpr/aed and tactical trauma to include tourniquet , chest seal and hemostatic gauze. They are officer friendly on a daily basis but are officer ferocious when it comes to a threat to our schools. They do not leave school grounds during school unless another officer comes to relieve them, the school is not without an officer. Every Erwin Police officer has hard body armor and rifles and have the same tactical first aid training, every day shift officer has keys to access the schools and we perform random walk throughs during the day. You might find an SRO, you might have 1 or 2 extra officers inside the school. We are constantly updating our plans for response and trying to improve. I know we can not think it cant happen here, we pray it never does. The Erwin Police Officers responding either have had, will have or do have kids in our school system, we are vested in our safety plans. Its scary to think our kids are in danger. We have and are working with the Sheriff as we will both be responding if its in the City we will need his back up and support and if in the county we will be responding to back up and assist his department. We have both worked with the school system and continue to do so. We meet again tomorrow to plan a week of drills at every school in Unicoi County. We will announce those dates and it will be soon. We plan to include EMS in our drills as well so if there is injury we can get them in fast to assist. We will use absolutely every resource to respond in the event this happens here. We will not wait outside, we will engage any threat to our kids. Unlike in Florida I can also promise you I will not be looking for a tv camera, I will give you information as soon as I can after the kids are safe as I will enter with my officers to end the situation, I am trained as well and will not waste a moment with the media when I should be actively involved. I know we all love and want our children safe,again we are training and hoping to improve our response, and praying every day we will never need it.
Regan Tilson- Chief, Erwin TN Police