The Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde, Texas, took place on the 24th of May 2022, during the midday hours. In total, nineteen innocents were killed during the targeted school attack. As a result, there’s been significant criticism of police response to the event. However, many are taking safety in schools a lot more seriously.
A Focus on Safety in Texas Schools
On May 25th, the Controlled F.O.R.CE. South Region office received a call from the Southside Independent School District (SISD) in San Antonio, TX. The request: posting armed Controlled F.O.R.C.E. security personnel in eight of their public schools throughout the district.
Discussions, negotiations, and logistical activities continued into the evening hours of May 25th. As a result, Controlled F.O.R.CE., using their network of security professionals, was able to execute armed security service at all eight sites.
The original opportunity for Controlled F.O.R.C.E. was only for the 26th and 27th of May. But due to their ability to stand up, support, and effectively manage services, the two-day service was extended to two weeks, finishing the school year (June 10th, 2022).
Ultimately, through continued discussions and the ability to meet and deliver on the district superintendent’s message and intent to have secure and safe schools, Controlled F.O.R.C.E. services continued through the summer school period. It ended with the delivery of their five-day CRATE Course at the Southside ISD high school the week of July 18th, 2022.
The Controlled F.O.R.C.E. CRATE Course (Critical Response to an Active Threat Environment) is part of the company’s new OPERATION SAFE HARBOR initiative. The initiative is ideal for addressing means to improve school safety and create safe learning environments.
A Well Attended Class Focusing on School Safety and Security
Approximately twenty individuals from around the country attended this weeklong course. There were individuals from multiple law enforcement agencies, the US Navy, the US Air force, and private security agencies. All had one united objective in mind: train to do and be better at responding to school violence and active shooter scenarios at schools.
Texas is taking the charge of keeping our kids safe with an increased focus on safety in schools.
Heartbreakingly, there was even an officer in class who lost two loved ones at Uvalde on that horrific day. This was while he was working post outside of the school. This event was beyond personal to everyone in attendance, some more than others.
Here is how the week went.
Meeting the Team and Mechanical Advantage Control Holds (MACH Training)
Upon arriving at Southside ISD High School, the school district Police Chief Don Tijerina met us. The Chief warmly welcomed our team with handshakes, and we then proceeded to exchange business cards.
One thing that stood out to our team was this highly secured school environment. They had a security tower where you drive up and must present the guards with an ID before you’re allowed on the large campus.
Chief Tijerina advised us that ten police officers (soon to be fifteen) are on campus. In addition, a private security company guards the school. Indeed, the Southside Independent School District was, and is, a leader in taking school safety to the next level. Thus, creating a secure school climate for the high school students and school personnel on campus.
We were soon greeted by twenty of the best defenders and first responders our country offers. I was taken back a bit by how eager, hungry, and ready these students were to get at it.
We even had a female correctional officer drive five hours, immediately following her twelve-hour work shift, just to jump straight into training. Which she paid for herself.
It was an impressive group.
First Day of Training
On our first day of training, Controlled F.O.R.C.E. Master Instructors Wayne Parker and Bill Norvell led the class. They took the class through eight hours of back-to-back warmups, close-range subject control, and weapon control training. Likewise, they trained in person and team takedowns. The class was also introduced to the proprietary Controlled F.O.R.C.E. MACH Training System.
Before long, the class was practicing MACH holds 1-5 and takedowns. They were soon drilling each other onto the mats, into prone positions, to be handcuffed. Then they practiced team tactics, where they had teams of two hook, control, or take down a bad guy. They weren’t allowed to use strikes or cause harm to themselves or the subject.
Over the next two days, it was strictly Defensive Tactics training. This included practicing drills and scenarios where officers were breaking up fights between students.
One of the week’s highlights was when a team of six of the US Navy’s top Commanders decided to do a surprise spot check to see how their team and the training was coming along. It was a true honor to meet these Commanders.
Enter the Glass House
On days three and four, Controlled F.O.R.C.E. Senior Director Aaron Murauskas joined Instructors Wayne and Bill on some excellent glass house training. Watching them work together was like magic.
They taped up orange cones with police tape and had the class practice entries, hall and room clearing, and plugging open doorways as a team. First with training pistols, then with training long guns.
It warmed my heart to see how these students engaged with each other and the instructors. Each was hungry to improve and accept criticism and corrections, pivoting to break bad habits on a dime. This group of students was serious, and it showed.
The camaraderie amongst the students and instructor team grew daily. The students even joined the team at the office for pizza night after class on Thursday. It was a long week, with seventeen-hour days for the Controlled F.O.R.CE. staff, but it became clear that no one really wanted the week to end.
Taking It to the School
Day five, is where it all came together. Mr. Tony Grano (Controlled F.O.R.C.E Executive Director) and Mr. Mike Costa (Deputy Executive Director of Controlled F.O.R.C.E.) greeted the class and joined in with the three other instructors demonstrating drills. They then had the class fully kit up and head into the school.
It was time to drill for entering an active shooter scenario. I was honored to witness the class putting together their weeklong training in an exercise of clearing the school hallways, stairways, and classrooms.
God forbid another active threat takes place. But when/if it does, these brave men and women will be there. And they will make a true difference when it comes to saving lives.
It was amazing to see how ready these departments, agencies, and branches of the military were to train and learn how to do, and be, better at instilling safety in schools. Their skills and confidence grew by leaps and bounds throughout the week.
I want to thank each one of them for their efforts in class. Not to mention everything they are doing to improve and protect the school community at large. It truly made me feel proud.
Southside Independent School District is doing amazing things and making a heroic effort to keep their kids and faculty safe. They are committed to doing everything they can to ensure that they never have to bury another child due to an active shooter. I can only hope and pray that other school districts around the country follow their lead.
Countless armchair quarterbacks on social media give their opinion on what went wrong at Uvalde that day. Those people like to talk and give opinions about safety in schools. To them, I say, if you don’t like what you see, stop talking, get up, and do something to create change.
Then there are the dedicated Defenders and companies like Controlled F.O.R.C.E. that invest time and resources, some out of their own pocket, to go to ground zero and bust ass to protect our Nation’s most valuable assets—our children.
To those of you that have done, and continue to, work to keep these kids safe, I say thank you.