Yukon PD ramping up training efforts for schools, businesses

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The Yukon Police Department is revisiting its training for active-shooter incidents. There will be training at city facilities in the coming weeks. (Photo provided)

By Michael Pineda
Staff Writer

In a quiet city like Yukon, an active-shooter incident stretches beyond the imagination. 

Sadly, there are numbers of cities and communities across the nation that once held a false sense of security. Recent events in Uvalde and Tulsa have once again brought concerns of gun violence to the forefront of the country’s consciousness. 

“You can’t rest on the fact it won’t happen ever happen,” Yukon Police Chief John Corn said. “Having these recent events – such as the school in Texas, the hospital in Tulsa – it does create a recall for people. 

“And they do start to think about when, not what or if, but when,” the chief said. “It’s good to revisit training.”

 

POLICE DEPARTMENT TRAINING

Corn said the department’s rapid response is different from that taught to the common citizen. Officers are not trained to wait for back-up and hold the perimeter when arriving at an incident scene.

“That model really went away after Columbine,” Corn said. “Not too many places that I know of do that. Most everybody operates on  – if it is an active threat, and you are the first guy there, you go address the threat. 

“You eliminate the threat and try to save as many people as you can save,” he said.

Corn pointed out that active-shooter incidents are highly dynamic and occur at such a rapid rate, not acting immediately is a detriment. To counter potential threats, the department has gained knowledge from other incidents to outfit itself accordingly in weaponry and armor. 

“Several years ago, we purchased, and we continue to purchase and carry, the 5.56 Colt, an AR platform short-barrel rifle,” he said. “We have the short barrel to secure in a vehicle cab, which makes it readily deployable. 

“It is a high-powered rifle, and it is a highly precise rifle.”

Corn said the department found early on law enforcement was not equipped at the same level as active shooters. He used an incident in Dallas where five officers were shot as an example. That incident is also why officers are equipped with heavy armor, in addition to soft body armor for protection.

 

BEING PROACTIVE AT CITY FACILITIES

Yukon Police Department has conducted active-shooter response training at city facilities in the past; plans are in place to conduct refresher courses. Corn said the training has consisted of the “run, hide and fight” criteria recommended by the Department of Homeland Security.

“It is still the pushout for most civilian, commercial and small business public access,” he said. “Find an exit, find a place to hide. If you have no choice, get in the fight.”

Corn said recent events has led to the decision to revisit training with city staff. He noted there are a lot of city facilities and buildings. 

Meetings will start with department directors, who in turn will take information and training to the staff level. YPD will also send specially certified officers that have been through instructor-level training to visit facilities for a risk assessment. 

“We will sit down and talk to each of the staff, the folks that are assigned to those buildings,” he said. “We will talk through the plan they have come up with. We will give them evaluation feedback.”

That will consist of one-on-one meetings and building layout discussions to create a more secure environment. 

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SECURING SCHOOLS

The police department has a history of cooperation that includes training prior to the start of classes. Corn will meet with Yukon Superintendent Dr. Jason Simeroth to discuss future training next week. 

“We are hoping we can get a block in there (professional days) so that we can go over some of the safety training and pass along any updates to ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) and ALERRT (Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training) in that way,” he said. “We have a lot of new teachers that come into the district. We have a lot of new officers, and so we are going to have our officers, especially the new hires, go through the training as well.”

 

SECURING THE CITY

One thing law enforcement has learned from active-shooter incidents is that few public facilities are safe. That puts a responsibility on police departments to understand the layouts of different facilities.

 “Schools are always going to be high-profile because you have young children,” Corn said. “With the Tulsa incident, now you have a healthcare facility. In Arizona, you have the parking lot of a Walmart. 

“There’s just been multiple active shooting incidents across the country that have been in so many different venues besides schools, so I started paying more attention,” the chief said. “Comparing those venues, what do we have in the City of Yukon? 

“Well, we have financial institutions. We have a healthcare facility, the hospital. We have a multitude of schools. We have a Walmart, we have a big Target. We check all the boxes of being a target-rich environment. 

“So, we cannot not prepare; we cannot not train and educate people,” he said.

That training extends to churches. Corn said training has been conducted for different houses of worship in the past. Now, there are locations in Yukon that have their own security teams. The hospital also has its own security and Corn said the department would be looking toward strengthening that relationship. 

“That’s the benefit of a community our size – We can make those meetings; We can have those conversations,” Corn said. “We know each other anyway. 

“In terms of partnerships, you don’t want to develop them in the heat of the moment, you want to develop them before anything happens to get ahead of the curve and develop inherent trust,” the chief said.

 

TRAINING THE PUBLIC

“Protect and serve” is the law enforcement mantra and Corn is interested in aiding city businesses. In years past, basic training has been conducted at the police department for small business owners. It has included discussion of facility assessments and some basic tools on how to preplan and identify routes of exit.

A new round of training is available to businesses that have had prior training or those that would like a layer of preparation against a day that all pray never occurs. Corn said the size of business does not matter – it could be a small storefront with less than five employees that seeks help.

“It may be something important to them as the business owner that they want this type of information,” he said. “They want to know what they can we do, what should they expect. We will train them. We will come do the training. We will be more than happy to do that.”

For businesses that have received prior training, this could be a good time to revisit that, along with a new building assessment. Such things as a remodel, different doors used or how a kitchen is laid out could have an impact on potential plans. 

“We need to also train on response techniques to all the different locations,” Corn said. “That’s a lot, so how do we get to all of those and do training and do orientation and talk about those layouts if we are not meeting with that store manager, that pastor or that principal – and doing that so they know who we are, know what to expect when we arrive, so that we know what they are going to be doing.”

 

NO TIME LIKE THE PRESENT

Corn said there is a lot of work to be done but it is important work. There is a lot of outreach involved as he looks to strengthen connections and serve the community.

“It’s not easy, it’s a lot of work,” he said. “It’s a lot of meetings and it’s a lot of people sitting down, face-to-face, talking about tough questions and talking about individual fears. 

“It takes a lot, but you have to do it now. You have to do it before you have an incident. Otherwise, you’re not going to be as proficient. You are not going to be as successful at saving people and securing those facilities in a timely fashion. You may be successful but you won’t be at the rate you could have succeeded.”

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