CENTRAL ILLINOIS — In the wake of the El Paso and Dayton mass shootings, Central Illinois law enforcement agencies are offering training to groups and organizations.
The Peoria County Sheriff’s Department offers a training called “Situational Awareness.” It’s free for groups and organizations.
Those with the Peoria and Tazewell County Sheriff’s Offices say these trainings are to teach people how to respond to a mass shooting, and how to prevent one.
Deputy Sheriff John Shallenberger of the Tazewell County Sheriff’s Office says things haven’t always been this way.
He says it was after a mass shooting 20 years ago that everything changed.
“Law enforcement changed with Columbine. It used to be that if some situation happened like that, if it was more of a barricaded situation, they’d call in the SWAT team to negotiate. Now it’s, ‘We gotta get out, we gotta evacuate as quick as possible and a lot of times citizens are gonna have to really help out,” Shallenberger said.
Often times mass shootings happen quickly and are over in a matter of minutes.
Meaning officers aren’t there right away to address the situation immediately.
Gaa says it’s important to be proactive and know how to respond in an active shooter situation.
“What’s the best decision now? And that can change based on what that threat looks like. Teaching them to analyze what’s the threat, where is the threat, and what are my best options now. And showing them what options are available to them,” Gaa said.
Chief Deputy Doug Gaa says it’s important to know where all exits are, and what items can be used for cover.
“One of the components we teach in the situational awareness class is ‘What kind of construction equipment is available to hide behind potentially that could stop bullets and protect you? While you’re waiting to make to decide on another option of, should I flee? Should I stay in place?” Gaa said.
It’s important to report any suspicious behavior someone might have or any concerning signs to law enforcement right away.
“Threats are assessed for the degree of which they are. Obviously if you’re not sure if you should or shouldn’t report it, we highly recommend you do report it, let us look into it, and see what that turns into through the investigation,” Gaa said.
If you’d like to learn more about Peoria and Tazewell County mass shooting trainings, you can find their numbers below.
Tazewell County Sheriff’s Office: (309) 478-5600
Peoria County Sheriff’s Office: 309-697-8515