Minden Press-Herald

Sep 21st

Response team formed to meet special circumstances


There's a new team in town – or the parish, as the case may be.

Webster Parish Sheriff Gary Sexton has developed a Special Response Team made up of 10 deputies with specialized training for abnormal crisis situations.

Recently, the new team, headed up by certified instructor and Sheriff's Capt. Robert Hayden, exercised their skills during an organized scenario involving an active shooter in a school setting.

Held at Doyline's Union Elementary School, nearly a dozen officers gathered along with volunteers from the area's youth community to act out the crisis using real-world infrastructure. Objective of the mission, Hayden said, was to identify the team's strengths and weaknesses.

"Establishing a team is great," Sexton said. "But it does nobody any good without training and practice. So we did this to get an idea of how things can really play out in such an incident."

The team, established by Chief Deputy Bobby Igo in early May, divided their efforts in the exercise to play out roles – both villain and hero.

"A couple of the guys acted as the shooters," Hayden said. "I asked them to be tough and give us some difficult situations to react to. It was good for the team to see in detail the types of issues that can arise during such a response."

According to Hayden, the team is working with the local Office of Emergency Preparedness to develop response plans to such critical incidents by identifying existing emergency plans already in place for the parish and its critical infrastructures.

"The exercise was definitely successful," Igo said. "We met our objective and now better understand the areas we need to build on to improve our planning and response strategies."

The team plans to conduct multiple additional exercises throughout the year to prepare for responses to different types of law enforcement-related crisis situations.

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