Pascagoula police on front lines of active shooter training - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Pascagoula police on front lines of active shooter training

Officer Torrey Hargrow, left, and Det. Michael Wiggins go through an active shooter training exercise at the Pascagoula Police Department's training center. Officer Torrey Hargrow, left, and Det. Michael Wiggins go through an active shooter training exercise at the Pascagoula Police Department's training center.
PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) -

It’s a call no officer wants to hear: An active shooter in the city. But, with some of the biggest industries in the country located in Pascagoula, that city could be especially vulnerable. And the Pascagoula Police Department is on the front lines to stop it.

"We’re as prepared as we can be," said Chief Kenny Johnson. "And our mindset is not if, it's when that active shooter comes to Pascagoula, we have to be prepared."

Three years ago, the department added a new center to enhance its years-long active shooter training program. But officers train when possible in real office buildings, schools and movie theaters.

Not only do all Pascagoula officers go through it, the department also trains other officers and industry security personnel.

"We’re not reactive, we’re proactive from the standpoint that we see the trends that are happening around the country, and we’d rather be in front of them than behind them," said Det. Michael Wiggins.

Wiggins has been an active shooter instructor for about eight years. He said the attitude toward active shooters changed dramatically after Columbine, from passive to aggressive.

"They’ve documented that about every 10 seconds in an active shooter situation, that somebody’s getting shot or killed," said instructor Torrey Hargrow. "So, now, the first person on the scene is to go in there by himself and get there and try to stop the killing as soon as possible."

Hargrow said the mindset of police officers hasn’t changed. It’s the kind of crime that has changed.

"Before it used to be one person with a gun robbing a bank. Now people are just going into places and just trying kill as many people as possible."

"It could happen for any reason. It could happen anywhere," he said. "As law enforcement, we don’t really care why it’s happening. Our job is to stop the killing. We want to stop it and we’re going to stop it."

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