Class back in session: Law enforcement uses closed-down school in Montgomery Co. for active shooter training

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Texas – What more can be done to protect kids in schools? It is a question that has been asked after school shootings across the nation in recent years.

In the months following the deadly massacre at Robb Elementary in Uvalde last May, Montgomery County saw an opportunity in a place where others saw a closed-down school.

Officials viewed what was the old Keefer Crossing Middle School as a potential way to have consistent training for law enforcement inside of a school.

“To have an opportunity like this simply fall on the lap of Montgomery County is probably one of the biggest blessings we have ever had,” said Sgt. Jason Smith of Montgomery County Constables Precinct 2.

The blessing became a reality post-Uvalde last summer.

“We are already using the space for other tactical training with our SWAT team. They ask me to come out and take a look at the facility,” said Jason Millsaps with Montgomery County Homeland Security. “I came out here and they were like ‘This would be a great full-time facility’ and within seconds, we all said, ‘What about an active shooter training lab?’”

KPRC 2 Investigates was the first major media outlet to get a first look at the space, which consists of over 230,000 square feet.

The layout allows for various tactical approaches and response re-enactments that can be conducted day or night.

The county also made it clear that the facility is open for business.

“We’re not trying to keep it to ourselves. This is a facility that everybody can come and use,” said an official helping operate the facility, Daniel Peña.

The former SWAT officer says the secret is out about what Montgomery County has to offer and, as a result, law enforcement from neighboring counties and states have visited the campus.

Millsaps says law enforcement from as far away as Minnesota have trained at the school.

However, the temporary electrical fixtures and generators that pump air into the building are signs that the program is not permanent.

Montgomery County has invested $325,000 into the school, utilizing funds from the American Rescue Plan Act, but the lease runs through the end of March.

Millsaps is hoping for the state to make a commitment in order for classes, consisting of 30 to 45 officers, to go non-stop.

“The uses of the facility are endless. If I receive the state funding that we requested, we can keep this thing running year-round and it would be a full law enforcement training facility, not just for active shooter [drills],” said Millsaps.

Bottom line for Smith?

“We want our communities to be safe. We want our kids to have a safe place to learn. We want our families to have a safe place to work, and we all want to be together at night, at the end of the day.”

“That’s a great idea because they need all the training they can get,” said Scot Rice, whose wife Flo was one of 13 people wounded in 2018′s Santa Fe School Shooting that left 10 dead.

However, Rice is quick to point out that training for a potential school shooting is different from actually being in one, as was evident in the hallways of Uvalde last May.

As Rice clearly put it, “You can’t train courage. You can’t make somebody run towards a bullet.”

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