Lisa Schmitt of South Elgin worries about being in an active shooter situation every time she goes out to shop.
So Schmitt, her husband and two children attended a free training class on how to survive an active shooting situation at the Kane County Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday night.
“Every time I go to the grocery store, I look around. You can’t trust anyone anymore. I want to learn any technique that will keep us safe,” she said. “I want my kids to be more aware of their surroundings.”
The sheriff’s office has been holding the classes for the public for four years. Sheriff Ron Hain said about 400 to 500 people have taken the classes since they began.
“People are constantly dying from senseless violence due to a basic lack of humanity. That’s the bottom line,” Hain said. “Firearms are rampant, and mental health support is severely lacking.”
Lt. Kevin Williams leads the program. He has given the presentations in a variety of settings since 2007. Williams has been with the Kane County Sheriff’s Office for more than 30 years.
During Tuesday night’s class, he told participants that active shootings “aren’t stopping.”
“They can happen anywhere at any time and typically last 10 to 15 minutes,” he said. “Active shootings are on the rise. There is no pattern or method to their selection of victims. They will shoot anyone they can. The victims are shot at random and not individually targeted. They often occur in a populated and confined area.”
According to Williams, 96% of active shooters are male, and they come from “all walks of life.” He said they often have feelings of alienation or were bullied.
“About 60% of active shooter incidents happen in businesses, or places where we live our lives,” he said. “The next active shooter is planning right now. Shooters begin preparations months or years in advance.”
Williams emphasized the importance of being aware of your surroundings when in public. He told the class that oftentimes, people are looking at their phones, and not paying attention to what’s going on around them.
“I talk about situational awareness, and to evacuate, lock down, barricade and counter. It’s important to lock down and barricade,” he said. “Active shooters are wolves going after sheep. You have to attack first, and depending on the venue, you have to try to counter their move.”
Janet Henderson of Batavia attended the class because she hosts events that could be seen as “controversial” as part of her job, which she did not specify.
“I am concerned this could happen. [The class] will be beneficial to get tips on what to do. I want to learn to be more aware in different environments,” she said.
Terri Barbeauld of St. Charles said she will feel more confident after taking the class.
“[Active shootings] have become an everyday thing now, and I’m very concerned. I want to know what to do and where to go,” she said.
Hain said the classes were formed to “continue to do all we can to keep our community safe.”
“The Sheriff’s Office and your local law enforcement are here to stand strong during the brutality of modern times and protect our citizens. As I’ve always said, laws are the fabric of a civilized society and law enforcement is the thin blue thread that holds it together. We need to put down our smart phones, balance social media with reality, and finally care for each other, at large, as our country used to do.”
Hain said that he is proud that his office has been hosting the trainings for the public, and hopes other counties will follow their lead.
“We’re hoping to be a model for others,” he said. “Over the last four years, we’ve set a model of how to respond to acts of violence. Our 92 deputies have annual rapid response training, tactical training and stress-induced trainings.”
To register for an active shooter training session, click here.
Source: The Daily Chronicle