BENTON, Ark. — Navigating through gunshots, loud music and screaming can be disorienting and terrifying — at least it’s meant to be.
“It is training, we want it to be safe, but we also want it to be realistic,” Captain Kevin Russell with Benton Police Department said.
Dubbed Active Killer Training, Benton police officers are sent in to the Junior High School one by one with little information.
“These things are always evolving. We learn something from every situation,” Russell said.
Making it as authentic as possible — there are students running in the school, a fire alarm going off and gun shots loaded with simulated ammunition.
“Almost like a paint ball but it hurts a little bit more!” Russell said.
Captain Russell has been doing these scenarios in schools since the training started in Benton almost 20 years ago — soon after Columbine.
He says this is the place to make mistakes, where a mess up leads to laundry from a paint ball, not loss of life.
“That I think has helped increase officer efficiency and better enabled and equipped them to respond to these types of situations,” Russell said.
The FBI shows more than 2,000 people have been killed or injured in an active shooter situation in the US since 2000.
It’s a statistic Benton never wants to add to, but certainly be prepared for, especially in schools.
“Our kids safety is paramount so that’s one of the reasons that we do this every year.”
If you live near or drive by the Benton Junior High School, you’ll see police tape up and possibly hear anything from gunshots and loud music to screaming until Wednesday.
Don’t be alarmed — just be aware.