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Emergency drills help with safety

Monday there was yet another school shooting.

Yet again it was close to home. 

Less than two hours away on the Delta State University campus a gunman opened fire in Jobe Hall, killing a professor. For a while Monday afternoon the shooter was believed to be still out and about, so many students and faculty spent the day on lockdown.

The shooting prompted the dismissal and closure of class Monday. It also put a halt to any plans for today’s 90th anniversary celebration for the campus.

People immediately got on their phones to check on loved ones, posts hit social media and TV screens across the state were stuck on the live feed from campus. You could see students being evacuated from buildings, running down the sidewalk with their hands over their heads. Those students need to be learning, not watching an act of violence due to a rumored love triangle.

What’s unfortunate is how life went on and it was like just another day. Acts of violence are getting to be too commonplace and the term “active shooter” is being used too much as of late.

In this day and age, this is why school campuses and local police departments have disaster drills.

SWAT teams locally train for this. Policemen throughout the state and nation attend Homeland Security classes and get ready for the worst.

What’s worrisome is a DSU English professor was quoted by The Associated Press as saying the university did a poor job of communicating with faculty, staff and students about the emergency situation due to a lack of a central command center.

This summer the Lafayette School District partnered with local law enforcement to perform an active shooter drill. Students and adult volunteers got ready to play mock victims. Whereas 10 years ago there may have been some smiles and laughs and having some extra fun with makeup and special effects, now there’s not really time for that.

Drills cannot be taken lightly anymore. There needs to be full participation from local officials, school officials, law enforcement and the media. Residents need to take an active role. Let’s make sure the next time a drill takes place in Lafayette County our leaders think of everything that could go wrong and be open and honest about any snafus. Let’s be sure there’s a command center for everything, including our homes and places of business — just in case for a manmade or natural disaster.

Everything is a learning experience, even if the worst were to take place right here in the Lafayette-Oxford-University community.

But let’s sure hope it doesn’t.