It seemed real enough. It began with the a suspicious person dressed in all black entered the MSA-West High School.
As it turned out, he was the designated live shooter in a drill organized by Sheriff Brett Stassi with assistance from Capt. Walter Ventress last Thursday.
In addition to the Sheriff’s Office, participants in the mock live shooter drill was the Plaquemine Police Department, the Plaquemine Fire Department, Acadian Ambulance and the Iberville Parish School Board.
“I think overall it was a great drill,” Stassi said. “It showed us some of the overall flaws that we need to correct.”
“There are several different things we learned as soon as we arrived, including jamming up the Sheriff’s Office radio system with deputies all reporting they had arrived after the drill began,” he continued.
“I think one of the main things we learned is that by working with the City Police, the Fire Department, Acadian Ambulance and Oschner Medical Center, by bringing everybody together we learned some good things and we learned some things that we could do better,” Stassi said.
“That’s what we learn from these incidents,” he said. “I hope we never, ever, have to deal with an active shooter situation in Iberville Parish but we learned what it is going to take for us to be prepared.
“It was a great job by everybody involved,” Plaquemine Police Chief Kenny Payne said. “It was a very well put together especially considering the large number of agencies that were involved.”
“We prepare for the worst and hope for the best,” Stassi said.
The sheriff said he learned his office should’ve had “more interaction with Oschner” by having a unit there when an incident like this is reported.
“So we’re learning and I think when you integrate all those different angles in, I think you learn a lot about how to handle an actual live shooter,” Stassi continued.
Some of the participants – deputies, fire fighters and police officers – came out to be part of the drill even though it was a day off for them, he said.
“I think it was a great thing overall,” Stassi said. “We learned a lot of things and it shows the public, it shows the people of Iberville Parish, that we’re not going to just sit and thinking about it, we need to be proactive and do something about it.”
“We’re going to continue to learn, prepare and make it even stronger,” he said.
While another active shooter drill is not in the works yet, Stassi said the Sheriff’s Office will be organizing other similar drills, like a lockdown due to a chemical spill from a train or a plant or some other kind of drill.