DOUBLE SPRINGS - A high number of mass shootings throughout the nation so far this year prompted Double Springs Police Chief Kim Miller to make a special request for more equipment, including one particular item, in case a local mass casualty incident occurs.
“The officers are asking for us to try to get a bulletproof shield for entries if we had a school shooting,” Miller began his request to Mayor Elmo Robinson and town council members at their Monday, June 13 meeting.
“The old theory was you needed a team of officers to go in when you had a school shooting,” Miller pointed out.
However, after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in 2012, law enforcement began a different type of training, stating that it doesn’t matter the number of officers present, that the first one present must go in and encounter the situation, Miller explained.
The Sandy Hook mass shooting, described as one of the deadliest in U.S. history, left 28 people dead and two injured, reports recalled, with most of the fatalities being first graders.
The elementary school shooting May 4, in Uvalde, Texas, where 19 children and two teachers were killed, has been termed the deadliest so far this year. This shooting occurred just 10 days after 10 people were shot and killed at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York.
The Gun Violence Archive - which classifies a mass shooting as a single incident where four or more people are shot or killed, not including the shooter - is reporting 278 of these terrible events this year, as of presstime Monday, June 20. At least 14 of these shootings involved four or more fatalities, according to the archive.
Major shootings in the U.S. this year include downtown Philadelphia (three killed, 12 injured); five killed at a medical center in Tulsa, Okla.;
One killed, four critically wounded at Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, Calif.;
Ten killed, three wounded at a supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y.; 16 injured by gunfire in downtown Milwaukee, Wisc.; one killed, two injured at Broadway Inn Express motel in Biloxi, Miss.; 10 injured when a gunman opened fire inside a crowded subway car during the morning rush in New York City;
Six killed, 12 wounded at nightclubs in a two-square block area of downtown Sacramento, Calif.
Miller stressed to the mayor and council the importance of having the appropriate protective gear in case of a school or mass shooting locally.
“Whoever is there is going to make entry, and try to stop what is happening,” Miller said.
“We see that more and more of these school shootings are in a more secluded area,” the chief said. “They are not necessarily in metropolitan (areas) and major cities. They are happening in smaller towns. Some of that may be because smaller towns have less officers on at a time. They have less equipment to work with.”
Miller requested a bulletproof shield for officers’ safety when making that initial approach toward someone with a gun.
“Shields come in all different prices and all different protections,” Miller explained.
The shield approved for purchase by the town council is designed to withstand at least a rifle’s round of ammunition, he said. The cost of the shield is around $6,000.
“To me, the cost of it is a small price to pay, if you ever had to use it,” Miller remarked.
This marks the first shield purchased for the police department, town officials confirmed.
“We’ve never owned one here,” Miller noted. “But in the world in which we live, you need to be prepared and able to go in and actually stop what is happening.
“It allows (the officer) to more effectively approach the target. This actually gives the officer a little bit more protection and enables him to be able to confront the threat,” Miller continued. “Our goal is to be prepared and to stop a theat if it ever arises. That’s what we want to be able to do.”
Council member Adam Veal made a motion to purchase the shield, with Tim Cockrell seconding, and all voting in favor, including Veal, Cockrell, Andy McSpadden and Hobby Walker. Council member Brittany Tucker was absent from the meeting.
“We’ve always tried to do whatever we could to help the school in any way,” said Robinson. “And we see now, after some of the shootings, some of the different types of equipment that we need to have available.
“Hopefully, we’ll never have to use any of it, but if we do, it’s available,” Robinson added. “The shield is basically something that would be used at the school and it’s for whoever is there first to use to go on into the building and try to take out the shooter.”
The mayor further explained the urgency of the town going ahead and purchasing at least one shield and to seek a grant to provide at least one other shield to the department.
New bulletproof vests also requested
Miller also requested six new bulletproof vests for officers. All of the vests have a five-year expiration on them, which does not mean the vests are no longer good, the mayor explained. It does mean, if an officer is wearing a vest past the expiration date and is shot and injured, the town would be liable, so the town seeks to keep these vests up to date, Robinson continued.
Cockrell made a motion to purchase the vests with McSpadden seconding the motion, and all voting in favor.
the cost of all six vests totaled $8,700, council members noted.
See complete story in the Northwest Alabamian.