Orange Park, FL - With the apparently growing incidence of gun violence around the nation, the Clay County Sheriff’s Office wants to make sure its plans are up to date.
“We’ve had some technical problems already on electrical failures,” says Sheriff Rick Beseler.
The Sheriff’s Office- along with Orange Park Police, Fire and Rescue and several other agencies- conducted a training exercise at Everest University on Wells Road Wednesday, The scenario in place, which was not revealed to most of the parties involved, simulated a person entering the building with an assault weapon, shooting several people and taking a class hostage.
“We hope it never happens in Clay County, but if it did, we feel we would be better prepared,” Beseler says.
He says this specific scenario was important because of the higher incidence of school shootings Beseler says we have seen around the nation. And for the college itself, this also serves as valuable practice.
“Giving us the opportunity to experience this real world- to help us be better prepared in the future,” says Orange Park Everest President Scott Haynes.
But for the students involved- volunteers who are assigned a character and painted to show their “injury”- it’s not an easy experience.
“It tells you, like, this stuff could actually happen. What would you do when it comes down to it?” one student tells me.
He says, in a real situation, he would probably be one of the first people shot because he doesn’t think he’d be able to stay calm. He was actually the first person out of the building during the hostage negotiation, and tells me he’s happy his performance- falling right outside the door- was convincing.
For Beseler, getting to find some of their glitches during trainings like this is important.
“Better to have that happen today, in an exercise, than to have it happen when it’s a real life situation,” Beseler says.
Haynes tells me he is excited to sit down with law enforcement soon to go over the training and make sure the university’s safety is up to par.