School resource and day officers from the Newton County Sheriffs Department and the Covington Police Department joined forces with drama students from local high schools to prepare themselves for the worst should terror strike the schools of Newton County.
With the help of drama students from Eastside and Alcovy High School, officers performed multiple drills over two days at Cousins Middle School. They worked with students to practice what to do during a hostage situation, when there are multiple shooters and when students are involved in the shooting as well.
Officers used real and fake guns and grisly makeup to engage in the mock school hijacking. According to EHS drama teacher Lindsay Beaumont, many of the 19 students became emotional during the first day after being "shot" by the armed man, but during the second day they were ready to go, each vying to be a "hostage" or to be one of the students to carry a fake gun.
"It was very shocking to see how far they took it – I had to calm a lot of the students down afterwards," she said.
During the breaks from the demonstrations the mood was light, students and officers joking with one another, fake bullet wounds on their bodies, fake guns in their waistbands. But when it was time to work they slumped their bodies over fallen chairs, ran through the hallways filled with smoke and the smell of sulfur as they were "killed" by the perpetrator, and screamed in terror.
"Since Virginia Tech and Columbine we have become more aware of violence in the schools," said Sgt. Randy Downs "This allows us to train our officers to take control of a situation like that."