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Guns drawn: Taylor County practices for active shooter situation in courthouseSubmitted: 05/23/2017

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MEDFORD - The Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Virginia Tech University, and Sandy Hook School in Connecticut all stir memories of deep fear and sorrow.

Mass shootings can happen anywhere, at any time.

In rural areas like northern Wisconsin, county courthouses could be prime targets. Taylor County trained for that possibility this week with an active-shooter simulation.


"Obviously, it's difficult going in after an active killer or shooter," said Larry Woebbeking, the chief deputy of the Taylor County Sheriff's Department.

On Monday afternoon, Taylor County shut down its courthouse, had two deputies play armed intruders, and practiced its response. It had never trained live in the courthouse before.

"We have plans in place, but you can only train so long verbally and by paper," Woebbeking said. "We actually took it to a scenario training today."

With a shooter in the building, quick communication becomes key.

"I'd like to see the officers on the radio really trying to feed the information to the responding officers," Woebbeking said.

For years, county courthouses stood as the ultimate people's buildings. People could come and go as they pleased, using any door at any time.

But American shootings and security concerns have forced counties to be more protective of safety in the buildings. In Taylor County, only one courthouse door is open to the public. Like in many other local counties, all others stay locked.

Training in the courthouse halls becomes a necessity.

"Twenty, 30 years ago, we wouldn't have thought about it," Woebbeking said.

Story By: Ben Meyer

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