Stateline officers learn how to respond in an active school shooting

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Stateline officers learn how to respond in an active school shooting

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) – It’s every parent, teacher and student’s worst nightmare, an active shooter inside their school. But unfortunately, it’s a reality no one is exempt from.

“We were prepared, but nothing can really prepare you,” said Dekalb Police Commander Steve Lekkas. “We are post school shooting, unfortunately.”

Lekkas was a responding officer fourteen years ago, when a gunman blasted a round of gunshots inside a Northern Illinois University lecture hall. A place of learning, quickly turned into a bloody massacre, when five students died, and several others were injured.

“Every crisis unfortunately, I mean, it happens,” said Lekkas. “But, it gives law enforcement a chance to analyze it, learn from it, and improve.”

Lekkas says the terrible reality is it could happen to anyone, anywhere. That’s why police training to become School Resource Officers at Pecatonica High School, learned how to respond Friday.

“It’s children first of all,” said Cook County Police Department Sergeant and Trainer Jaron Lee. “So, we teach that hey, it may be your kids in here and you need to respond, fast.”

Lee says the biggest key is turning responses into second nature, so no time is wasted protecting students.

“I have kids in the school district in Dekalb,” said Lekkas. “I feel better knowing the officers receive this training.”

SRO’s also note the warning signs to watch out for if someone is plotting a violent attack, and how to intervene. “They’re there everyday to protect the kids,” said Lekkas. “Our officers, whether people realize it or not, really do care.”

Lekkas adds that officers will stop at nothing to protect, even if that means making the ultimate sacrifice.

“Having lived through a shooting, I feel good knowing the officers are doing this training and are willing to respond in a situation like this,” said Lekkas. “Because it’s a big ask.”

Lekkas says earlier in the week the class was majority teaching SRO’s how to communicate with all types of different students, teachers and faculty. He also adds that learning how to connect with kids is important, because some may not be in good situations at home.

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