In response to a recent school shooting in Roswell, Taos Christian Academy decided to take a proactive stance. On Friday (Jan. 24), Pastor Trent Eikenberry, head of the academy, invited two state police troopers to campus to give a presentation to the entire student body about what to do if a shooting did occur.
Officers Victor Flores and Colby Skidmore went through a few basic strategies and key concepts to keep in mind during such an emergency.
Flores has been with the force three years and Skidmore for 1 1/2 years. They said this was the first time they came to speak to students in this manner but mentioned they had done scenarios at Taos High School.
They started their presentation by defining an active shooter as someone with a firearm who starts shooting people randomly in a group setting such as at a school. They said the shooter could be anyone such as a disgruntled relative, terminated employee or a bullied kid.
Flores and Skidmore said that if a shooting starts to happen, the best thing to do is get out. While the police will respond right away it could take up to 15 minutes for them to get to the scene.
The officers said it is important to know where the exits are and to have one or multiple rally points outside. If it is not possible to escape, they recommended barricading the doors, using whatever is available such as tables and chairs, to keep the shooter out of the classroom. At the very least, students should take cover under their desk and make themselves as small a target as possible.
Flores and Skidmore said if all else fails, people should try to take out the shooter. They highlighted that there is strength in numbers and said to use whatever is available, such as chairs, to fight the shooter.
The officers mentioned the importance of preventing such an event in the first place. It is key to make sure that people get the help they need before getting to the desperate point of becoming an active shooter.
Eikenberry, who has been in his current position for seven months, wanted to make sure students had at least a basic understanding of what to do if an active shooter appeared at the school. He also wanted to make sure that the community as a whole knew that they were doing the training.
“The police aren’t just out there writing speeding tickets and shooting at minivans. They are here to protect us,” said Eikenberry.
The students also had the opportunity to ask the police questions about what it was like to be on the force. They learned that pepper spray feels like rubbing jalapeños in one’s eyes and getting shot with a taser is extremely painful.
Another important point that Flores and Skidmore made is that they are people beneath the uniform and bullet-proof vest.
Currently, Taos Christian Academy has of 21 students in grades first through 12th. The academy was started in 1977.