White County, IN – Teachers have complained they were shot with pellets from airsoft guns during a recent active-shooter training in one Indiana county.
Two elementary school teachers in Monticello described a training exercise during which they were asked to kneel down facing a classroom wall, the Indianapolis Star reported.
While the teachers were still kneeling, law enforcement officers who were conducting the training sprayed the assembled “victims” with plastic pellets.
“They told us, ‘This is what happens if you just cower and do nothing,’” one teacher told the Indianapolis Star. “They shot all of us across our backs. I was hit four times.”
“It hurt so bad,” the teacher complained of the stinging plastic pellets.
White County Sheriff Bill Brooks said that his department has done the same thing in other trainings in the past and hasn’t had any complaints.
“They all knew they could be [shot],” Sheriff Brooks told the Indianapolis Star. “It’s a shooting exercise.”
The plastic pellets fired by the airsoft guns are 4.6mm in diameter, slightly larger than a BB.
“It’s a soft, round projectile,” Sheriff Brooks said. “The key here is ‘soft.'”
But the sheriff also said that since they’ve now had complaints, they won’t actually shoot the teachers in future active-shooter trainings, the Indianapolis Star reported.
He said the teachers all signed up to participate in the active shooter training and were warned that they might be shot.
The teachers told the Indianapolis Star that they were given paintball protective masks to wear but nobody told them they would be shot.
“It was like a quick spew of those pellets,” one teacher said. “Most of us got hit several times in our backs.”
The teacher’s union, the State Teachers Association, was furious about the training and demanded that an amendment be added to a current school safety bill under consideration in the state senate that would specifically say law enforcement officers were not allowed to shoot teachers during active-shooter training.
Sheriff Brooks assured the union that legislation wasn’t necessary – they simply wouldn’t shoot teachers during future drills, the Indianapolis Star reported.
But that wasn’t enough for the teachers’ union, who posted a series of angry tweets about it on Wednesday.
“During active shooter drill, four teachers at a time were taken into a room, told to crouch down and were shot execution style with some sort of projectiles – resulting in injuries to the extent that welts appeared, and blood was drawn,” the State Teachers Association tweeted.
“The teachers were terrified, but were told not to tell anyone what happened. Teachers waiting outside that heard the screaming were brought into the room four at a time and the shooting process was repeated,” the posts continued.
“No one in education takes these drills lightly. The risk of harming someone far outweighs whatever added realism one is trying to convey here. ISTA requests an amendment in bill so that more reasonable limits are placed on these drills,” the State Teachers Association tweeted.
The teachers told the Indianapolis Star that they still wanted to participate in active-shooting training, just not get shot.
“We didn’t want to quit the training because it seemed important,” one teacher explained. “It really was more than it needed to be.”
She said she thought some of the other training exercises were useful, including one where an officer pretended to be an active shooter firing an airsoft gun while the teachers took cover under desks and threw tennis balls at him until he stopped shooting, according to the Indianapolis Star.