Amarillo, TX - Mass shootings across the nation are prompting the Potter County Sheriff's Office to take a more proactive approach.
Next month, Panhandle residents can participate in a two-hour class called C.R.A.S.E., which teaches them how to respond to an active shooter event.
Sheriff Brian Thomas believes it's only a matter of time before those response skills could be needed. "We're not at a point of, 'Man, I wonder if that will ever happen in Amarillo.' As law enforcement, now we go, 'I wonder when that's going to happen in Amarillo.' And that's sad that we think that way, but we also have to think that way to prepare our minds as well."
After watching the mass shootings unfold in California earlier this week, Sheriff Thomas decided Potter County needs to expand its citizen active shooter training. In the past, the class was only taught to businesses that requested it, but now Sheriff Thomas is offering the class to the public.
"We're not going to sit there and teach you how to shoot," said Sheriff Thomas. "We're not going to teach you how to take someone down. What we're trying to do is change your mind set. We don't want you to be a victim. We want you to be able to make a decision and think, what can I do to survive?"
The class focuses on three response steps: avoid, deny and defend.
Deputies will teach you how to avoid a shooter by recognizing all possible exits of escape. They will also explain the best ways to deny a shooter by barricading yourself in a safe area. If those methods fail, deputies will teach you how to defend yourself using whatever means available.
"The whole concept is changing our attitude and putting ideas in our head," said Sheriff Thomas. "While you're coming in to work in the morning and you're booting up your computer to start your day, take five seconds and look around your office. Make those plans and decide how am I going to defend myself and how am I going to win if someone were to come in through the door today."
There are two classes scheduled for mid-January and the first is already full. The second class is January 14 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on the 11th floor of the Santa Fe Building. To RSVP, call 379 - 2929. Businesses that want to schedule a class can also call that number.
Sheriff Thomas said he will add more classes if there is enough interest.
Madison Alewel - NewsChannel 10