Tyler Police Chief Gary Swindle said his department regularly stages training to handle school shootings such as the one Friday in Connecticut.
Swindle said the lessons learned from the Columbine, Colo., shooting in April 1999 were many.
“Because of what we learned from Columbine, we do not wait to enter the building when there is an active shooter. The first responding officers on the scene do not wait,” he said.
Swindle said that applies to every Tyler police officer, himself included.
“We will not wait outside, because while we wait, innocent people are being killed inside,” he said.
Swindle said his department’s training also includes officers from TISD, Tyler Junior College and The University of Texas at Tyler.
“We all want to be on the same page,” he said.
In 2005, Tyler police and Smith County sheriff’s deputies found themselves in a deadly gun battle with David Arroyo, who shot and killed his former wife and a bystander.
Arroyo fired more than 100 rounds during the eight-minute ordeal on the square in downtown Tyler.
Earlier this year, the FBI conducted an active shooter drill on the TJC campus.
Dawn Parnell, Tyler Independent School District spokeswoman, said TISD has detailed procedures on how to prevent and react to school shootings.
“We have our check-in and check-out procedures in place,” Ms. Parnell said. “We try to keep all minor entry and exit ways closed and locked during the day, and we are continuing to review processes in place and make sure we make any needed changes.”
Ms. Parnell said the district also conducts periodic safety audits on campuses.
These audits assess safety from all standpoints, including the possibility of a campus intruder.
The audits are conducted annually at high school campuses and every other year at middle and elementary school campuses.
Findings are reported to district administrators and, every three years, to the Texas Education Agency, Ms. Parnell said.
Swindle said Friday’s news was disturbing, and his heart was with the entire community of Newton, Conn.
“You just can’t believe something like this could happen, but it does, and that is why we train like we do,” he said.
Staff Writer Emily Guevara contributed to this report.