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Alexander Jr. High stages active shooter drill

Students at Alexander Junior High School experienced a break from routine Wednesday morning when city police entered campus as part of a active shooter drill.

The Mississippi Department of Education compels school districts across the state to hold emergency-response training sessions throughout the academic year. Assistant Superintendent Rod Henderson said Brookhaven runs periodic fire, tornado, earthquake and lockdown drills to help ensure student safety in the unlikely event of a crisis.

Wednesday’s exercise was the culmination of several months of preparation, and Henderson said the drill went “very well.”

“Of course, we’ve seen things happen recently in Florida and other places. These drills are designed to minimize damages and prevent things from getting out of hand when there is someone who is a threat to the school,” he said.

The Brookhaven Police Department ran the exercise, and neither the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office nor the Lincoln County Emergency Management Office participated.

Parents were not told the drill would be conducted.

Roughly 18 officers, including members of the city’s S.W.A.T. team, combed through the Alexander campus, looking for a mock assailant.

Police Chief Kenneth Collins said his squad arrived at the school around 9:40 a.m., and they wrapped the drill up roughly 10 minutes later.

“With all the things that are going on in all these other places, we just want to keep our town safe,” he said.

Henderson and Collins said they hope the Brookhaven School District never experiences an authentic active shooter situation, but both men want local law enforcement to be well prepared for any and all worst-case scenarios.

“They did a good job today. We all learned some things, and we’re all going to get better,” Collins said.

As part of its student safety protocol, Brookhaven also employs two school resource officers. One is stationed at Brookhaven High School, and the other is posted at Alexander.

The officers are responsible for providing school security and crime prevention, and they are equipped to aid city police in the event of a real crisis.

The district keeps its shooter response procedure private, and, to help preserve the integrity of the recent exercise, parents were not given advanced notice of the drill.

Angela Hodges was in the process of checking her seventh-grade son into class at the start of the exercise, and she was pleased with the professional way in which the police force handled the drill.

“The whole school was silent, and the first person I saw was a cop,” she said.

She stood near the school’s main entrance, quietly watching the procedure unfold. From what she saw, Collins’s team acted swiftly and efficiently.

“I’m glad they’re prepared and doing the best they can to try and prevent anything from happening,” she said.