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After deadly Oxford shooting, Kent Co. police stress preparing students for the unthinkable

“A couple simple steps… in advance of the police getting there, we hope that the overall outcome will be much better.”

KENT COUNTY, Mich. — The deadly shooting that left a Southeast Michigan community in mourning this week has reignited the debate surrounding what’s been done in the fight to keep children safe in the classroom.

“Things like this tragically, take place so quickly, three, five minutes and that might be how long it takes for the first police officer to get there,” Sgt. Eric Brunner said. “We want to help equip the public.”

RELATED: Security expert says school, local police followed safety protocol appropriately at fatal school shooting

The Kent County Sheriff’s Office frequently walks church groups, businesses and grade-schoolers through the series of split-second decisions that could one day save their lives if an active shooter were to storm the building.

The training is known as CRASE, or Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events.

The course, which law enforcement pioneered in Texas, emphasizes the critical role everyday individuals play in scenarios many still view as unthinkable, yet, in the wake of the violence in Oxford, again a painful reality.

“These incidents are high intensity, but low frequency, so we don't always think about them,” Brunner said. “Once this terrible event happens, we're not left wondering, oh, what should we do, they can at least have something to fall back on.”

Preparation found itself at the center of a set of Michigan School Safety Task Force recommendations ordered in 2018 in the wake of the massacre in Parkland, Florida by then Gov. Rick Snyder.

The Task Force produced a report, which then urged lawmakers to clarify safety drill requirements.

Suggestions advanced by the 13-member commission included:

  • Physical security assessments
  • Solid core doors
  • Barricades
  • Single entry-points

It remained unclear Thursday how many districts had since fallen in line.

While CRASE does feature a drill component, the central focus has long been education.

RELATED: U-M expert: Preventing a school shooting | 'Secure firearms in home, help students and staff recognize distress signs'

The idea: Building upon that everyday spatial awareness and cognizance of what’s happening around you in hopes participants would never find themselves in a position to use the knowledge.  

“A couple simple steps… in advance of the police getting there, we hope that the overall outcome will be much better,” Brunner said.

Those interested in taking part in a CRASE training session were asked to reach out to the Kent County Sheriff’s Office.

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