ACCEPTING the reality of violence, in any form, is difficult. A natural response to hearing
that something truly horrible has happened is to divorce ourselves emotionally from
the incident and assume a posture of pity or commiseration. We shake our heads and
wonder aloud how someone could “do something like that”. We push aside the possibility
of such a thing happening to us – in our community – to our kids.
WE are comfortable with some kinds of threats. We will attend Town Hall meetings
and do all those things we should do to prepare for Hurricane Season. We stock up on
canned goods, water; buy generators, check on our elderly neighbors, fill the car up with
gas. And when the time comes, we pull together to put right what was torn apart. We
even attend meetings and listen to the experts tell us what to look for to ensure our loved
ones are not in danger of addiction; that our not so tech savvy citizens know how to avoid
being scammed or hijacked by online predators. We come together to understand and
prepare ourselves for the possibility of these threats entering our lives. We educate ourselves
and we listen to the experts so that we can be ready when something happens.
But how do you put right the death of 17 students? And how in the world do you
even wrap your head around the possibility of an active shooter right here in our town,
threatening our children? How do you grasp the idea that your child might not be safe
in the classroom? This is a reality in our world today. Far too many times a confused,
misguided, angry individual has armed himself and set out to do great harm. We can no
longer deny the probability of another incident happening and there is no way to predict
when or where or to whom it will hit.
On Tuesday, at the direction of Police Chief Robert Burby, after more than a month of
preparation, Assistant Chief Joe Stanton, Captain Spotted Bear, and Emergency Management
Director Tom Munoz, had units from Galveston County & Harris County, Texas
City & league City Bomb Squads, Texas City SWAT & Canine Units, IT, Emergency
Management, Drone Unit, Galveston County Sheriff’s Department, La Marque PD, and
Texas City ISD come together to spend a day preparing for an active shooter incident.
“It could happen anywhere.” Asst. Chief Stanton explained that the exercises that
would be happening this day served a multitude of purposes. “ We recognize that the best
way to look at this is a physical run through. This is a multi-agency exercise because these
are the assets that would respond. Our officers have been trained to go in, go in hard, and
we are going in to neutralize the threat. We have a new Drone Division that will be out today.
I believe it would be highly effective in this kind of scenario, especially if the shooter were
to exit the building.”
“With the assets and resources we have in this community, we have to be fully prepared
and the best way to do that is through exercises like this. Today is a chance for us to test
different scenarios, tweak or change anything that might need it to prepare for a large, full
scale exercise in June at La Marque High School and this is sort of preparation for that.”
Watching the sun rise over a high school parking lot full of police cars, uniformed officers,
canines, robots, weapons, drones and media, was a surreal moment. Here were the best
and most highly trained individuals in our area, coming together to ensure that an active
shooter in this town would face the full force of their resources, talents and commitment to
neutralizing any threat that might occur.
They ran different scenarios throughout the day. We saw SWAT clear a room, Bomb
Squads using robots to defuse a bomb, drones moving slowly down a hall, sending images
of what waited around each corner. They ran Officer Down exercises, Canine Units were
there, and each and every person there was laser focused on the task at hand. The message
was very clear. These people know their jobs. They are highly skilled, extremely well
trained, and willing to do exactly what is needed to ensure any active shooter in any possible
situation will be stopped.
The world has changed. Threats against schools, churches, concerts, parades – any
where there are large groups of unsuspecting, vulnerable individuals, have become a regular
occurrence. In Texas City, in Galveston County, such threats will be met with training,
technology, preparation. We are building our wall and it is ever present and unstoppable.