This article was first published on July 20, 2012
Lieutenant Mark Cotton says the Friday morning tragedy in Colorado looks like an active shooter situation.
"The [shooter's] goal is to provide as much chaos and injury to as many people as possible, as quickly as they can before they are either captured and/or killed," said Cotton.
He's in charge of training officers in the Macon Police Department, at the hospital, and at the school district. One of the lessons, is how to handle active shooter cases.
"You cannot wait for large groups of backup to go stop the threat," he said. "It is your job and your partner's job to go stop the threat as quickly as possible."
Cotton is also a SWAT commander. He says in his 25 years, he's seen lots of barricading and hostage situations, but "No active shooter situations that I can recall," he said, "but that doesn't mean we can't prepare for them because there is no time for a learning curve once these happen."
That's why even current officers have to keep their shooting skills sharp. If you're not a trained officer, Cotton says it's best to lay low.
"First thing you do is do not approach the suspect. Do not try to apprehend him, do not agitate him. You hide. And then you try to escape as quickly as possible."
Cotton says Macon Police has a "mutual aid understanding" with agencies in Bibb and other counties. That means surrounding law enforcement is ready to respond if a situation calls for multiple agencies.
Communication is key in those situations. That's why Bibb county is overhauling its communication system that enables officers and different departments talk to each other .
City and county governments are using part of $8 million of a penny sales tax to upgrade the 20-year-old system that now crashes often.
City spokesman Chris Floore says the new system would be more reliable.
"The contract we're bring before the appropriations committee includes actually two brains of the system there'll be this primary one and a second one at a different location. What we're really excited about is the redundancy of the system. If this one goes down and loses power, he other one will come on automatically and we'll have uninterrupted service among our first responders," said Floore.
City council still has to approve Harris Communication's bid to install the new system. If they give the go-ahead, the system could be online by summer next year.