East Texas officers train to respond to school shooting with ballistic shields

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Published: Jul. 21, 2022 at 6:53 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 21, 2022 at 6:59 PM CDT
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MINEOLA, Texas (KLTV) - Within the last month, Texas leaders announced the transfer of over $105 million dollars to support school safety and mental health, with $50 million specifically designated for bullet resistant shields.

Training with ballistic shields is different from other forms of active shooter training. For that reason, law enforcement officers from several different agencies came to Mineola Elementary School for specialized training using shields.

Law enforcement officers train with ballistic shields at Mineola Elementary School.
Law enforcement officers train with ballistic shields at Mineola Elementary School.(Blake Holland/KLTV)

“You’re actually going against some of the principles that you’ve been taught throughout your career,” said Mineola ISD Police Chief Cody Castleberry on using the shields.

Castleberry said the shield allows officers to survive what would typically be fatal rounds and press on to neutralize the threat.

“Given the fact that most active shooters are using rifles, our soft body armor that we wear does not stop a rifle. So using the shields with the simunitions gives us a level of training that the typical patrol officer does not have,” Castleberry said.

The training at Mineola Elementary School was led by Freedom Defense Training. Owner Ray Barron said they make use of past events to help create situations that look and sound like the real thing. Both the officers and the shooter use training ammunition, while scenarios also involve innocent bystanders screaming and crying.

Wood County sheriff's deputies participate in a simulation.
Wood County sheriff's deputies participate in a simulation.(Blake Holland/KLTV)

“They’re having to react in real time coming from the outside in or already being on the inside and responding versus two man to four man stacks,” Baron said.

Thursday marked the second and final day of shield training inside the school. A third day of training will happen with live fire on a gun range.

Agencies involved include Mineola ISD, Winnsboro ISD, North Hopkins ISD, Wood County Pct. 2 constable’s office, Wood County Sheriff’s Office, and Paladin Solutions Security Contractors.

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