I hope you find the next few days of interviews interesting as I have.
ACTIVE SHOOTER…SCHOOLS! This is part one in a multi-day interview with Deputy Chris Padgett of the Clay County Sheriff’s Office.
With Sheriff Daniels permission I had an opportunity to sit down with Deputy Chris Padgett of the Clay County Sheriff’s Office. Chris was happy to help and give his time.
Chris is a career LEO and his background is very impressive; both tactically trained and in police procedures. He is our sheriff’s spokesman and is the Public Information Officer for the sheriff.
Chris started His career in patrol, advanced to violent crimes, later a detective in burglary, sex crimes and then homicide.
Chris was also a SWAT member for six years and one of their snipers for three years. He has also been on multiple task forces.
Chris has received several commendations including a life-saving award.
Chris has been in several deadly force incidents and unfortunately one where he had to utilize deadly force himself.
Chris is a Christian and a family man with open minded, but conservative and knowledge based views.
ME: Thank you for meeting with me Chris and taking the time to talk about this delicate topic; civilian involvement in a school attack? We are going to talk about active shootings in school. We will not look at it from a legal standpoint, neither of us are attorneys, nor will you teach us tactics; we would be here forever. We will only look at it from a LE side and what you would think; are we a help to you, our community and to our kids. We understand what you tell us may or may not be what you would do as a tactically trained policemen.
ME: I am on the school grounds, I have a concealed weapons license, and my gun is safely stowed in my car; I may or may not be well trained. As I walk toward the school people start running out of the school. I stop a woman and ask what is going on? She says, “someone told me there was a man in the school with a gun.” How should we handle that?
Chris: From a civilian standpoint, you have to ask yourself how comfortable you are in putting yourself in that active shooter incident. Many people have different personality traits and just because you have a firearm doesn’t mean you are the type of person to aggressively confront a problem. That doesn’t make you good or bad and doesn’t mean you are right or wrong. They are just personality traits we all have embedded in us. That said, if your personality trait allows you to go in and you feel comfortable retrieving your firearm and going in to address that bad guy then I would never tell you not to do that because lives are depending on you. So, it all boils down to this, we will look at this from two perspectives. The person is comfortable to grab the firearm and go address the threat or they are not. So, if you are, you call 911 immediately – that’s always step #1. Give all your information including clothing description and your intents. You then get your firearm and you proceed into the school. People are going to be running out past you, people are terrified, people are running for their lives. They may or may not have seen someone shot or killed, they may have seen or heard shots fired from the criminal inside. This is going to overwhelm all your emotions at once. That is what the civilian doesn’t think of.
ME: What if we are only told someone saw a person with a gun, would you still recommend us to go in?
Chris: At that point I would recommend taking your firearm, covering it on your person and safely preceding toward the building to try and gather more information.
ME. Now, Chris, the same person says HE saw a person with a gun? Would you give him the same advice?
Chris: You will still proceed to the building slowly, methodically while gathering information as a civilian. Here is why, If there are not active shots being fired and no one is telling us there are people being shot the scenario changes. So if we move back to the fact there is a person with a gun and no active shooting, we want to slow and methodically gather information while closing the gap between us and the threat. The only way to close in the gap is to get closer the incident location. So as a comfortable civilian who feels confident in their ability to approach a threat, then I would never tell you not to go and try and figure out what is going on.
ME: Now, you could do twenty or thirty crisis-oriented things at one time but we have a person with a gun who may or not be tactically trained and well-practiced. Would you encourage them to immediately contact the police as they move forward and before going in?
Chris: As said before, the beginning of everything starts with; no matter what, dialing 911 first…period. When you go back to your vehicle you should already have your cell phone and we are under the assumption that you have already called 911. You have advised 911 that you are at ABC school, you have been advised there is a person in the building with a gun, and you’ve given your description. Tell them you’re arming yourself and where you’re moving up to. Keep your phone on speaker and put it in your pocket or somewhere on your body so dispatch can continue to monitor what you are doing. As you get closer to the school turn the volume down.
ME: Chris, what if the dispatcher tells you not to go in?
Chris: Here is where it boils down to from a civilian standpoint. Removing LE, removing all liabilities, you are a human being and you are looking at protecting more vulnerable human being so you have to make a decision. If you are worried about civil liability you won’t be able to do it. If you are worried about someone telling you not to go in, you won’t be able to do it. If you were worried about dying, you won’t be able to do it. But, If you are worried about lives that are potentially at risk and people who are going to die and you don’t mind going in, then you are going to do it.
ME: We might get shot.
Chris: Absolutely, here is the thing; as a law enforcement officer I understand that every day that I could die. I have measures in place that if something happens to me that day, I have letters left for my family, I have videos left for them, there are good bye messages I have given to my family that hopefully they will never have to watch but every single day I go to work there is a potential I could die. So you have a choice to make and if death scares you, you will never be able to encounter the threat. Because with every threat that is deadly there is potential for death.
Stay up to date and read more on our next blog with Part 2… where we have entered the building in the interview.
See you at the range