Blue police lights flashed by Maxwell-Gunter Recreation Area, but there was nothing to worry about due to the Tallapoosa County Sheriff’s Department practicing an active shooter drill.
About six officers from the sheriff’s office and Jacksons Gap and Camp Hill police departments responded to the scene in addition to Tallapoosa County EMS on Friday morning. Because the recreation area, which is owned by the U.S. Air Force, doesn’t have any law enforcement there, it relies on the sheriff’s office for protection.
“When we do the active shooter we include all the agencies in the county who have people who are available to come and respond to the event like anybody else,” Sheriff Jimmy Abbett said. “There’s a mass thing of law enforcement that responds with the mutual aid agreements we have with them and once they get there they’ll be instant command set up.”
Officers responded to the drill in which a former recreation area staff member at the was shooting at the area’s main building. The drill began at 10 a.m. and law enforcement practiced to arrived six minutes later to stop the active shooter by 11 a.m.
“(The drill is) for safety and concerns for Maxwell-Gunter and also to look at our response times and how we would handle the situation as an active shooter,” sheriff’s department Sgt. Ray Arrington said.
The sheriff’s department has held the drill at this location for three years. This is one of many active shooter drills the department runs throughout the year.
“One thing we look at going into these drills is our response times, stopping that threat and then clearing the scene and finding wounded and trying to get help to them,” Arrington said. “Dealing with a rural area, responding to an active shooter, we don’t know where our unit will be, so they could be responding from another location. It may take longer to get here.”
In addition to police and paramedics, members of the Air Force were there to practice as victims and those injured.
“I want the public to know we want to maintain public safety,” Arrington said. “This is our job. This is what we do. We want them to feel safe and secure in the community and know that we’ll respond appropriately to these types of incidents and take appropriate actions on those.”