West Liberty University Hosts Active Shooting Exercise | News, Sports, Jobs


West Liberty University police officers John Haglock, left, and Megan Talkington participate in an active shooter exercise on campus Thursday.

WEST LIBERTY — West Liberty University Police Chief Ron Fox, when another mass shooting makes headlines, often hears others say such a tragedy would never happen in a town like West Liberty.

But Fox said a small town like the one that houses the WLU campus is exactly the type of place where such shootings happen.

Fox wants the West Liberty campus to be as prepared as possible in case the worst happens, so the university held its first active-shooting exercise on its grounds Thursday afternoon. The drill, which took place in the WLU Hall of Fine Arts building, included not only the university’s police department, but also the Ohio County Sheriff’s Office, Homeland Security Agency and Ohio County Emergency Management, West Liberty Fire Department and WLU Critical Incident Service. Response team.

The mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas, and Buffalo, New York, have brought mass shootings back to the forefront of public consciousness, but Fox said he was considering conducting an exercise like this. this for much longer. The exercise likely would have taken place sooner had it not been for the limitations of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’ve been planning this for a while,” Fox said. “You can see the news and see everything happening across the country. Our goal is to be prepared. You can learn from everyone.

picture by: Photo by Derek Redd

West Liberty University Police Chief Ron Fox, left, and Constable JR Olejasz take part in an active-shooter exercise on campus Thursday.

“It was our first exercise, so our goal was to keep improving and keep training,” he added. “We want to be ready for that day.”

Retired Ohio County Sheriff’s Deputy Matt Moore portrayed the shooter, who descended into a hallway of the Beaux-Arts building with a 12-gauge shotgun. The response included a communication by campus-wide email and real-time response from local public safety agencies and first responders.

Law enforcement officers were tasked with securing the area, subduing the shooter, and treating casualties when paramedics arrived to transport those casualties out of the building and to the hospital. These officers came in waves, looking not only for the suspect, but also for the victims and those in hiding who needed to escape to safety.

Ohio County Sheriff Tom Howard said an added benefit of the WLU exercise was that senior advisers from the West Virginia Sheriffs Association Youth Leadership Academy – which is held at the university – were able to participate and get a taste of what their possible future calling might be.

Howard’s deputies participated in many drills like Thursdays, and he said they always appreciated the opportunity to hone their skills.

picture by: Photo by Derek Redd

Law enforcement officers and first responders tend to those who play casualties during an active-fire exercise held Thursday at West Liberty University.

“Any practice is good practice,” he said.

WLU President W. Franklin Evans said the exercise was a great addition to the training his campus police receive and it was good to see how law enforcement and first responders from across the region would react to such an event in West Liberty.

“We are very grateful to the many security agencies and professionals who participated in this important training session today,” said Evans. “I am certain the exercise will provide valuable lessons and feedback to keep campus, our students, employees and visitors safe.

“It is reassuring to know that West Liberty University has so many security professionals helping the campus with these issues,” he added.

Fox said he and his officers will review what went right and what went wrong during Thursday’s exercise and use that information to improve. Just after the drill, he said officers had done a good job initially dealing with the situation and neutralizing the threat, but could have been more attentive in ensuring all areas were secure later in the event. .

picture by: Photo by Derek Redd

Retired Ohio County Sheriff’s Deputy Matt Moore portrays the shooter during an active shooter exercise held Thursday on the campus of West Liberty University.

“You want to be as good as possible,” Fox said. “(The recent mass shootings) just reaffirm that this is not going away. … It can happen and we just have to be ready.

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