Bossier Sheriff’s deputies honed their active shooter skills this week as they learned how to safely and efficiently respond to a call or situation involving a perpetrator with a gun, or a hostage situation.

“We say it every day, ‘It’s not a matter of if, but rather when’ when it comes to an active shooter situation in our area,” said Bossier Sheriff Julian Whittington. “Ensuring our deputies are trained to be proactive and keep a situation like that from arising in the first place, or being able to properly respond if it does, is vital. Lives will depend on it.”

The Sheriff’s Office converted an old warehouse in Plain Dealing into a place that has cardboard walls, rooms and fake furniture to simulate a home or workplace. The deputies then go through training exercises in response to various scenarios such as an active shooter in a school or shopping center, a gunman in a courtroom, a hostage situation, workplace violence or an alarm call at a residence or business.

“We’re teaching them basic skill sets like ‘slicing the pie’ and ‘quick peek’ that they can use in a variety of situations,” said Capt. Al Langley, an active shooter instructor with 30 years in law enforcement. Langley says the training is a proactive approach to handling these volatile situations and ensures officer safety and quick removal or elimination of the threat.

“Some of our scenarios are based on events that have already happened, and we are using simunitions to make it as real as it can get,” he continued. Simunitions are a specific type of ammunition used by law enforcement and the military that provide a simulated effect of gun fire with the sound and smell, but are still non-lethal training ammunition."

The three days of training was held for deputies who work security for the Bossier Parish Courthouse, bailiffs, and some Patrol deputies who haven’t been through basic SWAT and advanced training. For trainee Deputy Tony Broadway, having the proper skills to respond to these dangerous situations, along with the right mindset, gives him the confidence to know he’ll be ready to respond.

“When we get 10-8 [ready for duty], I’m always thinking, ‘never get complacent’,” said Broadway, who patrols the Haughton area. “You may work one call like a domestic, and you may get 12 calls and they are smooth sailing, but it may be that 13th one, and it’s all different. Never get complacent…never let your guard down. Training like this is very important.”

For Sgt. Guy Whiddon, supervisor for bailiffs in the Bossier Parish Courthouse, his job is about being prepared to take care of anything from the front door to the courtroom. With recent shootings at courthouses in Texas and Delaware, training for the “what-if” becomes even more vital.

“The courthouse is dangerous – you’ve got criminals up there every day,” said Whiddon, a 10-year veteran with the Bossier Sheriff’s Office. “You’ve got what we call ‘pots and pans’ which is civil court, with people getting divorces, protective orders, non-support…people get mad up there. Hopefully we can control it here with our mouths first [de-escalate a situation with verbal commands], and if not, we’ve got to be prepared for the next step.”
Langley also noted that criminals today seem to have a different mindset.

“In the past, our suspects have typically had negotiable issues - wanting to free these people or see those people, wanting money or something like that,” he said. “The problem is people who are doing these shootings now seem to have no negotiation, and they’re just going in to do damage until they can’t do damage anymore.

“If it happens, we are going to be ready,” he assured. “We’re going to do everything we can, number one, to prevent it, and number two, be ready to take care of the situation if it does happen so we can stop it as fast as possible.”