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NE Florida law enforcement regularly trains for active shooter situations

Preparation is key in worst-case scenarios, officials say

The deadly shooting Friday at the Fort Lauderdale airport underlined the importance of preparation on the part of law enforcement.

Many people who were at the Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport have praised security officials, saying they acted quickly and appropriately when the shooting happened. 

Officials said the key is preparation, which is why Northeast Florida law enforcement agencies regularly train for active shooter situations and worst-case scenarios. 

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Last month, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office and Jacksonville Fire Rescue Department hosted a training exercise with the goal of learning how to handle multiple attacks and work with other law enforcement agencies to respond to them.

Clay County sheriff's deputies conducted a similar exercise at the Orange Park Mall to simulate how the situation could play out if a shooter opened fire in a public place. 

Toni Chrabot, a former FBI special agent living in Jacksonville, said training was encouraged in a 2012 executive order. 

"There's a number of things to be gained. There is no replacement for walking through a scenario -- live. You can sit around a table and discuss, but you learn more, and learn to correct your mistakes," Chrabot said. "The response should be faster, the coordination better and, hopefully, the intervention in the situation, stopping the situation, quicker. Often that leads to arresting or securing the scene."

It's not just officers; local agencies also want to prepare the public. The St. Johns County Sheriff's Office has held several seminars to teach people how to react in an active shooter situation: Run, hide, fight. 

"It’s to show this could happen. This is real. This is not a movie. And we’re trying to make sure our public understands that the threat is real," said SJCSO Sgt. Jim Priester. "The better they prepare now, the better survivability they’ll have then."

News4Jax contacted JSO on Friday, but the agency said it does not comment on tactical plans. SJCSO also did not wish to comment out of respect for the victims of the airport shooting.