On Tuesday night, the SWAT Teams from both the Bee County Sheriff’s Office and Beeville Police Department practiced both mock hostage situations and active shooter situations at the new Skidmore-Tynan Elementary School.
No more do police stand around outside making a plan when called to a school. They are trained in advance to deal with every situation and, once on site, put the plan into action instantly.
The night’s exercises were led by Bee County Sheriff’s Deputy Cecil Daniels.
The group of 11 men dressed in full SWAT gear, including boots, pants and bulletproof vests, listened closely as Daniels explained that they would be going through two different scenarios.
The first would be a hostage situation. The men approached the school in two teams with the lead of each holding a ballistic shield. Each member of the team had a gun in tow.
The teams entered through the cafeteria and swept the perimeter of the room before moving on to the hallway. The teams moved up each side of the hallway, checking the rooms as the moved.
The room was safe.
They continued moving down the hall and securing each room until the location of the pretend hostages and shooter, in this case the principal’s office, was reached.
Daniels described their moves as “slow and methodical,” because this wasn’t an active shooter situation.
The next scenario — a shooter in the principal’s office.
They entered the building. Guns drawn, they quickly moved down the hall, checking for unlocked doors along the way. Their commands echoed through the halls.
While the two law enforcement agencies have never had to use this particular type of training in a school situation, “we have to prepare and train for it just in case,” Daniels said.
Bee County Sheriff’s Lt. Ronnie Jones said the Skidmore school served as a good training ground because it was a brand-new school and had some surprises for them. The exercises gave them a chance to familiarize themselves with the new school and its layout.
It also gave the two agencies a chance to train together.
“The more people that are trained, the better,” Jones said. “We pride ourselves on being able to work together.”