Courthouse practices active shooter safety

Published 6:00 am Tuesday, July 4, 2023

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The Greenville courthouse executed a full scale safety drill last Wednesday, at 4 p.m.. Put together by Captain Andy Beck of the Greenville Police Department, and Rosie McLain Till, director of the Butler County Emergency Management Agency (EMA), the staged drill was aimed to prepare the county seat for an active shooter emergency. 

As part of the exercise, the courthouse was cleared of civilians while each office’s employees were briefed on what the staged role-play would entail and a review of their safety plans. Lurleen B. Wallace (LBW) Community College students from the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Program came out to role-play as civilians and gain hands on experience in their course knowledge. 

Members of the Greenville Police and Butler County Sheriffs departments were marked as observers and were posted throughout the courthouse to take note of any corrections or mistakes to discuss in the debriefing afterwards. The exercise, Till said, helped participants identify the role each person and agency plays in an emergency situation. 

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“We have no idea what everyone’s job entails,” said Till. “I’ve worked in the Sheriff’s office and I’ve worked in dispatch, but actually being in and witnessing those roles, it brings so much to light and gives an understanding of what they all have to go through. There’s so many moving parts, but when you get in a room together and discuss everyone’s role in an emergency, you realize how hard and valuable each department’s job and position really is. For someone who has grown up in this community, and to be where I am now, It’s humbling and gratifying to work with all these great and talented people.”

Once in place, Greenville Police Captain of Patrol Joseph Disney  played the part of an active shooter, entering  the front doors of the courthouse and firing training ammunition as role players fell to the ground mimicking injury or fatality. The “shooter” then made his way upstairs to the courtroom as office employees acted out their safety protocols by making calls to the authorities, hiding, or exiting the building.

The Greenville Police Department’s Special Response Team (SRT) entered the scene and proceeded to aid “victims” and make their way to the courtroom where the “shooter was holding hostages. The SRT role-played a negotiation with the “shooter” until eventually the hostages were released. 

Several local agencies and emergency response teams participated in the drill including the Greenville Police Department, SRT, Butler County Sheriff’s Office, Butler County 911 Dispatch Center, Greenville Fire Department, EMA, Regional Medical Center, and the LBW EMS program. 

Lovvorn expressed how important these types of drills are for the community, and said this is just one of the many active shooter drills the department executes in public spaces like the courthouse, city hall, and schools throughout the city and county. Lovvorn shared how different drills throughout the year are necessary due to alternating factors such as seasonal weather, holidays, school sessions, population traffic, building structures, etc. These types of factors can change the protocol needed that is only realized during the practice of these safety drills. 

“A way the community can aid us in our efforts is to be aware,” said Lovvorn. “They are our eyes and ears. If they see something that is out of the ordinary and not right, even if they’re not certain, they need to report it. Just call in and talk to one of the authorities and let them know what you see.”

Lovvorn said the Greenville Police Department will come out to businesses and set up a safety drill. The department members that are certified with Homeland Security will teach a free active shooter class and conduct a threat assessment to any business that asks. 

If interested, Greenville citizens can call the police department to set up a date. 

“I want to thank all of the law enforcement and medical professionals working and coming together today,” said Lovvorn. “It’s a small example that if something were to happen we can function and work together. It’s one of the blessings to be in a community like Greenville, because we are all on the same page for public safety, we believe that’s very important, and we will work hard to maintain that.”