2/12/2013 12:27:00 PM Hopi Police Chief briefs Hopi High staff on proper response to shooting incident
Hopi Police Chief Jamie Kootswatewa (right) and Hopi High teacher Dirk Wirth enjoy a laugh after a training session at Hopi Jr./Sr. High last week. Stan Bindell/NHO
Stan Bindell The Observer
Hopi Police Chief Jamie Kootswatewa led an "active shooters" training Jan. 31 at Hopi Jr./Sr. High School to teach staff how to respond in the case of a shooting crisis.
Kootswatewa, a 1992 graduate of Hopi High School, has a long history in law enforcement including serving as a corrections officer, a ranger, a special agent, a police officer and chief of the Hopi Rangers before taking the top job at the Hopi Police Department about one year ago.
An active shooter is a shooter in a confined or populated area. The objective in these cases is survival.
Kootswatewa talked to the staff at Hopi Jr./Sr. High about several cases involving active shooters. One of the most famous was in Columbine, Colo. in 1999 when gunmen killed 15 and wounded 23.
A reservation shooting occurred in Red Lake, Minn., where 10 were killed and seven wounded. This case was unique because the shooter took his grandfather's police car and campus security guards waved him through the checkpoints because he was in a police car.
At Virginia Tech, 32 were killed and 23 were wounded. The doors were bolted closed and since that shooting police carry bolt cutters in case this happens again.
In the most recent case, at Sandy Hook Elementary School, a shooter killed 20 children and six adults.
Kootswatewa said he prays that nothing like this happens at Hopi High, but he wants the school staff to be prepared. If an incident occurs, he advises that staff:
secure classrooms and work areas;
move students away from the doors;
stay away from the windows and doors;
know the two nearest exits in case students and staff need to leave the building in a hurry;
remain calm so students don't panic;
if gunshots are close, barricade the door with any bookcases or furniture in the room; and
if in the hallway, get in a classroom as soon as possible.
If staff can call the police department, police need to know the location of the shooter, the number of shooters, physical description of shooters and the type of weapons the shooter is using.
"The first goal is to neutralize the shooter," Kootswatewa said.
Kootswatewa said there should be two evacuation routes. He said prevention is possible when there is a respectful work place and when staff make supervisors aware of any workplace violence.
Kootswatewa said better funding for mental health could also serve as a deterrent.
"But there is no one profile for shooters. It could be a drunk or a disgruntled employee. Not all shooters have been diagnosed with mental problems," he said.