LaGRANGE — The LaGrange Police Department is hoping to arm folks with information and a safety plan during their first Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events class, or CRASE.
The session is open to the community and will teach people how to protect themselves in a public place in the event of an active shooter or some other type of threat.
“You need to have a plan. This is the fire drill of today,” said LaGrange Police Officer Jim Davison.
Davison is part of LPD’s Community Outreach Division and teaches the CRASE class alongside Lt. Eric Lohr.
For more than a year, both men have trained employees at dozens of area businesses, manufacturing plants and local organizations. They also conducted sessions with administrators and staff within the Troup County School System and LaGrange College.
Lohr and Davison provided each group with a threat vulnerability assessment by walking throughout their facilities and looking for potential problems that may allow easy access to suspects, or prevent people from getting out.
After receiving a positive response from local businesses and getting more inquiries about the training from residents, the police department decided to create a class for the community.
One of the main focuses of the 90-minute program is teaching people how to remain vigilant and aware of their surroundings, even when doing something as simple as shopping.
“How many times do you walk into a business and look for the exits, or a room to hide in?” asked Davison. “It’s the simple things you don’t think about. How can you lock or secure a door to prevent the bad guy from getting in?
” … It (CRASE) teaches you to be proactive in a situation and not just lay down,” he added.
“We want to train people to think ahead of time,” said Sgt. Marshall McCoy with LPD’s Community Outreach Division. “Be in that mindset of ‘What would I do’ everywhere they go.”
One of the mindsets police hope to break is that an active shooter incident, such as the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, cannot happen in LaGrange.
“A lot of people think, ‘It’s not going to happen here,’” said Lohr. “What I tell people in these classes is, ‘Do you think administrators at those schools thought there would be an active shooter when they started school that day?’”
Davison said about 50 percent of suspects in active shooter cases are known to one or all of the potential victims — usually either as a significant other or coworker. But the other half of the suspects will be completely unknown to people caught in their cross hairs.
Lohr, McCoy and Davison hope the CRASE training will help those people get to safety and get out alive.
“Our main objective is to get people to think like survivors and not like victims,” Davison said. “That’s something we train for as police officers … you keep going and fight to survive.”
“With increased training and drills, knowing what to do in an active shooter situation will all become second nature,” added McCoy.
The LaGrange Police Department’s CRASE training is scheduled for Monday. The session will take place at LPD’s training center at 375 Aerotron Parkway off Lukken Industrial Boulevard at 6 p.m.
Anyone interested in participating in the CRASE training is asked to contact Officer Jim Davison at 706-883- 2644 or [email protected] Space is limited so participants are asked to reserve a seat in the class.
Melanie Ruberti is a reporter with LaGrange Daily News. She can be reached at 706-884-7311, ext. 2156.