A two-part crisis training event was recently held in Darlington for the benefit of approximately 50 agencies, departments and schools throughout the area.
On Wednesday, July 23 the event consisted of an intensive, interactive and educational workshop on how to respond to a crisis in a lockdown situation in schools, essentially how to plan for and survive an active killer situation.
The objectives of the workshop were to teach employers and employees to understand a lockdown plan, to demonstrate why every work place in America needs a lockdown plan, to examine the numerous realistic considerations there are in developing a lockdown plan, to empower the employee with the knowledge that regardless of the size of their workplace a lockdown plan can be developed and implemented, to provide those who may be on scene of an active killer situation with the tools necessary to increase their survival rate and most importantly to save lives.
The session was held from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the conference center in Bridges. There were a total of 85 attendees representing the following agencies: Lafayette County Emergency Management, Lafayette County Sheriff’s Office, New Glarus School District, Southwest Health Center, Benton School District, Cuba City School District, Orchard Manor, Warren Community School District, Mineral Point Police Department, Monroe Police Department, Pecatonica School District, Lafayette County Health Department, Green County Emergency Management, Monroe School District, Monticello School District, Shullsburg School District, Memorial Hospital of Lafayette County, Darlington Community School District, Blackhawk School District, Platteville Police Department, Monroe Clinic, Iowa County Emergency Management, Highland Police Department, Lafayette County Child Support, Shullsburg Ambulance Service, Lafayette County Clerk of Court, Southwestern School District, Belmont School District, UW Extension - Lafayette County and the Lafayette County District Attorney’s Office.
Then on Thursday, July 24 a second workshop was held on the topic of School Threat Assessment: Stopping the Threat Before it Strikes. Held in the same place and at the same time as the first workshop, this session focuses on analyzing communication and behaviors to determine whether or not a student, staff or other person may pose a threat.
A total of 109 people attended this workshop and represented the following organizations: Lafayette County Emergency Management, Lafayette County Sheriff’s Office, Argyle Police Department, Belmont Police Department, Darlington Police Department, Blanchardville Police Department, Cuba City Police Department, Monroe Police Department, Iowa County Sheriff’s Department, Green County Sheriff’s Department, Mineral Point Police Department, Green County Emergency Management, Platteville Police Department, Cuba City School District, Shullsburg Fire Department, Lafayette County Health Department, Darlington Fire Department, Southwest Health Center, Lafayette County District Attorney’s Office, Belmont School District, Belmont Ambulance Service, Argyle Ambulance Service, UW Extension - Lafayette County, Rural Medical Ambulance, Lancaster Police Department, Warren Police Department, Lafayette County Register of Probate, Green County EMS, Fennimore Police Department, Lafayette County Child Support, Jo Daviess County Sheriff’s Office, Monticello School District, Potosi Police Department, Highland Police Department, Shullsburg Ambulance Service and the Lafayette County Clerk of Court.
The instructor of both workshops was Jesus Villahermosa, who served in Piece County, Wash. as a law enforcement officer for over 32 years and just retired from the SWAT team after 30 years of service as the point man on the entry team.
“The best thing to do is to not be a community in denial about these things,” said Villahermosa. “Denial breeds opportunities for crimes of all kinds and things like school shootings actually happen more often in rural America. We can’t sit around and say ‘oh it will never happen here’.”
Villahermosa said it is very encouraging when communities reach out to him to get training like this.
“I’m very excited to be a part of it,” he said. “And it’s a big kudo to the sheriff’s department for doing something like this before something bad actually happens. It’s better to have a plan for things like this and not need it than to not have a plan when and if it happens.
Villahermosa has numerous certifications that include being the first certified Master Defensive Tactics Instructor for law enforcement personnel in the state of Washington and serving as a firearm’s instructor and an active shooter instructor. Villahermosa also served as the director of campus safety at Pacific Lutheran University.
Villahermosa’s experience as a law enforcement officer has fueled his passion for people and their emotional, mental and physical safety. He has spoken nationally as a safety consultant for over 27 years and presented on safety-related issues with a focus on active killers and surviving such an event.
He has trained over 550,000 professionals throughout the country, including hundreds of colleges, universities, school districts and some of the largest corporations in America.
According to Theresa Burgess of the Lafayette County Sheriff’s Department, the trainings on a topic of utmost importance were very successful.