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Sheriff's Department Trains Schools For Unpredictable Situations

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BOZEMAN -

After the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting last year, the Gallatin County Sheriff's Office has been working on ways to make sure all children are safe if an intruder ever entered their school.

Over the next couple months, law enforcement will be providing hands-on training to teachers, staff and administration in rural schools to prepare them for the worst.

Principal at Lamotte School, LeeAnn Burke is practicing using a tazer, one of the tools the Gallatin County Sheriff's Office says can be used to protect their students in case of an intruder.

"It makes me so sad that we do have to learn it, but we are," said Burke. "They're not telling us we need to take these people down. They just want us to change the course of the event."

As more violent attacks on schools occur around the country. Burke said the policies have changed.

"The lock down procedure has just been duck and hide and let it happen. Now they're telling us run, evacuate and get away. They're telling us we have many weapons in this classroom," said Burke.

During the training, school employees will learn defensive tactics and how to use pepper spray and tazers.

"It's building their confidence and changing their mind set in an emergency," said Gootkin.

Sheriff Gootkin said usually by the time law enforcement gets to a scene, the damage is already done. He hopes with this training, teachers can help protect their kids until authorities get there.

"There's nothing more important than our kids and their safety and that's the bottom line," said Gootkin.

Gootkin said the training is not only preparing school staff and teachers for an unpredictable situation, but also building relationships between law enforcement and the schools.

"We're building these relationships with the schools and law enforcement. It's not just our school resource officer, we're talking deputies and detention officers," said Gootkin. "It's been incredible and I'm really proud."

Burke said she learned a lot from the training, but hope she never has to use it.

"I hope something like this never ever happens," said Burke.

Gootkin said they already have plans to do the training at Anderson School, Monforton School and Three Fork Schools.

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