Every change brings an opportunity. The winddown and pending closing of the Smithville campus allowed for an opportunity for UT Police at Houston and MD Anderson’s Facilities Management teams to use the vacant facility to host an active shooter refresher for police officers.
Research and Administrative Facilities Director Jimmy Gibbs and Police Captain Wayne Smith, Jr., seized on the unique circumstance. Gibbs and his team made sure the facility was available and safe for everyone before, during, and after the drills, and Smith ensured police instructors and officers were ready for the drills.
“It’s extremely important that officers stay sharp when it comes to an active shooter response. Make no mistake, active shooter is a core mission for UT Police and these skills sets must be practiced, honed, and maintained. It’s also important for our officers to know and be confident that they have the skills to get in there and save lives. They know they can't wait for backup when seconds count. I’m proud and confident our guys have the tools, skills, and grit to do what needs to be done,” said Smith.
During the drills, officers were able to practice skills, such as how to navigate through hallways with open doors, how to identify people in harm’s way, and what to do if an active shooter does not comply with commands. They were also trained on how to medically tend to an active shooter if they discharge their weapon.
“These vacant buildings are an amazing asset for our officers to train in because they are built to university standards,” said Special Events and Emergency Operations Sergeant Scott Barnwell, who is based in Houston and who leads all active shooter training events for the department.
Because the doors are the same and the room number formatting is the same, officers get a ‘real feel’ for what it might be like in a real-life situation.
“We’re also not affecting operations or patient care,” Barnwell said. “We have a very good training venue that allows our officers to gain valuable tactile skills that they don’t normally get.”
UT Police offers Active Shooter Prevention and Response safety classes for MD Anderson and UTHealth Houston students and workforce members. Register through our Campus Safety webpage.