Posted: Feb 21, 2013 9:24 PM by MTN News
Updated: Feb 22, 2013 7:17 PM
The Sandy Hook school shootings impacted communities world-wide and forced many officials to re-think what was being done in schools to protect teachers and students.
Now, local law enforcement are taking steps to protect schools in Gallatin County.
"If it can happen in Harrison, it can happen in one of our one room schools here in Gallatin Valley," said Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin.
Gootkin is working to implement a program that would give teachers more options for self-defense in an active shooter situation.
"In almost every single case by the time law enforcement gets there, it's over. That's why we're going to be training twice a year we're not just doing it once a year," said Gootkin.
The program involves training teachers to use tasers and pepper spray in an active shooter situation. Gootkin stressed that tasers would not be carried around by staff but secured in several safe locations around the school.
"What we're talking about with the pepper spray and tasers is absolutely not on their person. It's whoever the school administration and principal designates as the people that will be trained and have access to those weapons. Our School Resource Deputy will then work with the school administration and identify in the schools where to best have those weapons."
While Gootkin says the response has been overwhelmingly positive, none of the teachers or administrators we reached out to, would comment on camera.
"I have a very positive staff in regards to the work of the sheriff's dept. and their efforts to help us keep schools safe. We prefer not to be interviewed at this time. We would like the opportunity to learn more about school safety and also take part in some of the trainings before commenting," said Gallatin Gateway Principal Kimberly DeBruycker.
Lieutenant Salvador Navarro with Montana tactical fire arms instruction, trains people to defend themselves in situations that present an imminent threat and is in favor of the program.
"Anytime someone is able to learn a new paradigm, a new way of defending themselves whether it be verbally or an impulse weapon like he's talking about, the taser or using a chemical agent those are great deterrents and can really buy you some time if not stop a situation."
In 1986, Kristofer Hans shot and killed a teacher and critically wounded the Vice Principal at Fergus High School in Lewistown, Montana.
We recently spoke with Hans at the Montana State Prison. We wanted to know if he thinks the sheriff's efforts would have deterred him.
"I was so enamored with this idea that this one act is gonna solve all my problems. When you get in that mindset, you are just compelled forward and that's kind of how I felt. You know they talk about these notions of guns in schools or tasers or pepper spray and I'm not sure of what the effectiveness of that will be. Every situation is different so who can say for sure but I know in my case it was very much like a tidal wave getting started in motion and how do you stop a tidal wave?" said Hans.
Sheriff Gootkin says the self-defense aspect is just one part of the program he is trying to implement.
"I think a lot of times what happens is, the child is so depressed and the family just doesn't know what to do. They don't know where to go and we need to tie that in and I think law enforcement can help with that," said Gootkin.
"I just wish there was a way to stop me but I think the only way to have stopped me was something earlier, something in the prevention phase," said Hans.
Tune in Sunday to learn more about Kristofer Hans and gain valuable insight as Hans talks about what caused him to pull the trigger and what may have been able to stop him.