Drill aimed at keeping skills sharp

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 4, 2000

VIDALIA, La. – On Friday morning, the Concordia Parish School District and local law enforcement agencies took another step toward making the parish’s schools safer.

The district and the parish’s Special Reaction Team took part in a 45-minute drill designed to simulate how they would respond to a hostage situation at a school. The team is composed of officers of the Concordia Sheriff’s Office, the police departments of Vidalia and Ferriday.

During the drill, which took place at the former Ferriday Kindergarten Center, the SRT team’s 17 members simulated how they would enter a school during such a situation and take the person holding hostages into custody.

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Friday marked the first time that the drill had been performed in an actual school building. The team conducts drills twice a month in other buildings throughout the parish.

&uot;When we (school officials) started working on the district’s crisis management plan, we realized the need for all agencies to be coordinated, to go through the simulation in case something like this ever happens,&uot; said Superintendent Lester &uot;Pete&uot; Peterman.

The district’s crisis management plan, which was approved by the School Board last year, details what district employees’ reaction should be in case of various emergencies.

Peterman added that he and H.L. Irvin, the district’s director of support services, observed the drill.

Next, U.S. Department of Justice representatives will visit Concordia Parish public schools in September or October to review security measures, Peterman said.

Following Friday’s drill, all agencies involved held a meeting to go over their responses and how they could be improved.

Nolen Cothren — chief of Concordia Fire District No. 2, which also took part in the drill — said that from what he saw of the drill, it went very smoothly.

&uot;Just like we practice, they also have to practice regularly to keep their skills sharp,&uot;&160;Cothren said.

The kindergarten center is empty because kindergarten and pre-K classes have been moved to Ferriday Lower Elementary starting with the 2000-01 school year.

Russell Butler, commander of the Special Reaction Team, referred calls regarding the drill to Sheriff Randy Maxwell, who could not be reached for comment Friday.