Police in Vermont Face Backlash For Staging A Mock Shooting Before High School Students

Police in Vermont are facing intense backlash after staging an unannounced mock school shooting that left students and staff shaken. The drill, which involved officers firing blank rounds in the hallways of Fair Haven Union High School, was intended to simulate an active shooter scenario. However, the realistic nature of the exercise sparked widespread criticism, with many arguing it was traumatizing and poorly handled.

The mock shooting occurred during school hours while students were in class. Officers from the Fair Haven Police Department, in collaboration with other local agencies, simulated a mass shooting by firing blank rounds and shouting to mimic the sounds of gunfire. The goal was to test the school’s emergency response plan and provide officers with training in a real-world setting.

However, the realistic nature of the drill caught students and staff off guard. Many reported feeling intense fear and anxiety, with some believing an actual shooting was underway. Parents were also left in the dark, with many only learning of the exercise after their children contacted them in a state of panic.

The staging of the mock shooting has sparked widespread outrage, with critics arguing it was insensitive and potentially traumatizing. School safety experts caution against conducting realistic active shooter drills that simulate gunfire or other aspects of a real mass shooting. Such drills can leave students and staff with lasting emotional distress and even symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Fair Haven Police Chief Bill Humphries has defended the exercise, stating it was necessary to identify gaps in the school’s emergency response plan. However, he acknowledged that communication breakdowns occurred, with students, staff, and parents not being adequately informed in advance.

The backlash against the Vermont police underscores the delicate balance in preparing for school shootings without causing undue trauma. While active shooter drills are a necessary aspect of school safety, they must be conducted with sensitivity and transparency. Experts recommend tabletop exercises or drills that focus on decision-making rather than simulating the sights and sounds of actual gunfire.

The incident serves as a stark reminder of the need for clear protocols and communication when conducting school safety drills. By doing so, law enforcement and schools can work together to create safe learning environments while minimizing the risk of causing unnecessary distress.