Officials drill for disaster

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Research shows that more than 100 school shootings have occurred since 2013. Gun violence, racial profiling and law enforcement response have become widely-debated political issues across the country.

Although such a tragedy has not occurred in Madison County, local leaders say they want to be prepared.

Madisonville CISD Police Chief George Sweetin gathered with Superintendent Keith Smith, Madison County Emergency Management Coordinator Shelly Butts and other representatives from the city, county and school district last week for a tabletop discussion on active shooter training. Participants from the county judge’s office, Brazos County and Burleson County offices of emergency management, North Zulch ISD, CHI St. Joseph Madison, CHI St. Joseph EMS and Brazos Valley Council of Governments also were included.

“It needs to be done periodically with different agencies,” Sweetin said. “This is the first time we’ve sat down with other agencies.”

Butts added that while her office conducts frequent training exercises, last week’s event was the first time “we’ve done this for the school at the school.”

“Those who play well together respond well together,” Butts said. “If you practice, it makes it a lot easier when something happens. It’s education for everyone. It’s a hands-on approach.”

Sweetin said that periodic drills are held within the school system so students, teachers and administrators are prepared.

“This is testing the plan and revising the plan,” he said. “We’re able to talk openly and see what everyone else is doing. We have a good relationship. It’s very beneficial. You hope it will never happen but you prepare.”

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