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Getting Answers: school resource officer training

Getting Answers: school resource officer training
Updated: May. 26, 2022 at 5:00 PM EDT
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WEST SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - In the wake of the Texas school shooting, Western Mass News is looking at the role resource officers play in local schools and, more importantly, what is their training in these active shooter situations.

The city of West Springfield has three school resource officers, all of which had to go through extensive training to learn how to handle dangerous situations like an active shooter.

Uvalde officials in Texas are now saying there was no district police officer inside Robb Elementary School when the 18-year-old gunman entered the building, though their investigation is still ongoing.

Now the question is raised: what could an officer have done if there was one inside the school? We checked in with West Springfield Police Sgt. Joseph LaFrance, who was a school resource officer for five years.

“I think it’s safe to say, you know, the intent of the person walking into your school, wearing body armor and tactical gear…that is a threat right out of the gate,” LaFrance said.

He added that there are three West Springfield police officers stationed at three different schools: West Springfield High School, the middle school, and Lower Pioneer Valley Educational Collaborative School. Each officer goes through extensive training to be allowed to serve in this role and part of that training is learning how to deal with an active shooter.

“Active shooter training has been pretty popular over the last 10 years and we do it annually, at least once a year, if not twice,” LaFrance explained.

Lafrance told us they are taught to engage with the shooter and keep them in one spot. The longer the shooter is focused on the officer, the more time students and staff have to get away.

“Based on their training, active shooter training, is to go to the source of the shooting, where the noise is. You have to engage the active shooter. Unfortunately, sometimes, the SROs are outgunned,” LaFrance noted.

West Springfield Public School Superintendent Tim Connor told Western Mass News after hearing about the tragedy in Texas, he thought about his West Springfield schools and how he can protect his students. He said knowing some of his schools have resource officers makes him more confident his students are safe.

“Without a doubt, I cherish the relationships that we have with our SROs and it lends a sense of ease, I think, for the kids as well.” Connor said.