Matt Crisafulli

Sheriff Matt Crisafulli

(March 8, 2019) Worcester County Sheriff Matt Crisafulli believes preparation is the key to survival in circumstances that he hopes will never happen — an active shooter situation.

The sheriff’s office announced last week that it will hold free classes to help people develop skills should an active shooter emerge in their midst.

“The ultimate goal of this class is to save lives,” Crisafulli said. “To meet that goal, this class is specifically designed to teach participants how to think differently should the unthinkable situation occur.”

Attendees can expect to participate in drills, learn the historical context of active shooter events and find out what options are available to victims, according to the sheriff’s office. There will also be a question-and-answer session.

“Through real-world examples, videos, and hypothetical situations, participants will receive hands-on training in how to respond to an intruder, to identify where exits are located, and what to do if the exits are blocked,” Crisafulli said. 

There was a time when no one would have thought a shooter situation was even possible, but events throughout the country have proven that such things can happen anywhere.

So far, Worcester has had threats made against schools — Pocomoke High School received a threatening call last February, according to Carrie Sterrs, public information officer for the Worcester County Public Schools — but this and others were not acted on.

The Capital Gazette, a newspaper in Annapolis, however, saw five people killed in a June 2018 mass shooting, and hundreds of active shooter incidents have occurred in the country over the last two decades.

The need for this type of training arose from recent shootings nationwide. Crisafulli’s sessions will be tailored “toward churches, businesses, and public organizations,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement. 

The course is derived from the “Avoid, Deny, Defend” strategy developed in 2004 by the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training center at Texas State University. 

“Sheriff Crisafulli feels it is incumbent upon himself and the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office to help train citizens how to react and survive an incident until law enforcement arrives on the scene,” the sheriff’s office said.

There are 50 spaces available for the first session. It will take place at 6:30 p.m. on April 9 at the Worcester County Recreation Center on Public Landing Road in Snow Hill.

For more information, or to sign up, contact Chief Deputy Mark Titanski mtitanski@co.worcester.md.us or 410-632-1111.

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