Courthouse preparing for ‘active shooter’ drill
Washington County Courthouse will hold an “active shooter” drill Monday.
Mike Jones / Observer-Reporter
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An “active shooter” drill will be held at the Washington County Courthouse next week in an effort to prepare emergency responders and county workers for the unimaginable.
The drill will be held Monday afternoon during normal business hours to give police officers and courtroom staffers real-world practice in the event a shooter storms the building or there is another emergency.
Washington County Sheriff Samuel Romano and his department are planning the exercise with the county’s CERT team, which is similar to a SWAT team, and various police officers from around the area.
“If you’re looking at the news all over the country, a lot of it has been happening in the courthouses,” Romano said. “We’d rather be safe than sorry. Let’s get everyone on the same page.”
The drill is expected to last one or two hours. County officials are asking that anyone in the courthouse at the time to stay calm and follow directions from police officers and courtroom workers.
“We would really like to make it as real as possible,” Romano said. “It’s not just for the (SWAT) team, but also for the people working in the courthouse.”
Washington County President Judge Debbie O’Dell Seneca said the drill spawned from a 2011 meeting she and other workers had with the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts. Members of the AOPC’s Southwestern Pennsylvania region brought up the idea of a drill and how to implement training for police officers and courtroom staff.
“We’re aware these things happen and we have to be vigilant,” O’Dell Seneca said about recent mass shootings. “Now what are we going to do about them?”
She added that court officials already have undergone training with the sheriff’s department on security and have contingency plans in place. However, this will give them an opportunity to review security procedures and improve them if they find any weaknesses during the drill.
O’Dell Seneca said that they plan to report their findings back during next month’s AOPC meeting.
“We’ll report back to them how it transpired,” she said. “I hope it’s successful.”