The timing was a coincidence, but the importance of being prepared for school shootings was made even clearer.
Gabriel Jacquez is the principal of Mesa Middle School.
“I think it brought it to the forefront…and it brought it really close to home.”
He was one of the officers, principals and leaders here at the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum for a school shooting training exercise soon after a school shooting in Roswell.
Mayor Pro-Tem Greg Smith, representing District 2 on the Las Cruces City Council, was one of the area leaders also here.
“As much as we don’t ever want to see it happening in any of our communities, it could happen here and best to be prepared and never have to use it than to be unprepared and wish you were.”
Police departments from rural towns like Roswell were here too…small towns where everyone seems to know each other.
I talked with Officer Frank Angel who is a School Resource Officer for the Hatch Police Department.
“Just the relationship with those kids and myself and the school – it’s a must.”
Every day, he goes to a school in Hatch…a community much smaller than Roswell.
“You always have questions…are the schools prepared for something like that…and I believe they are…They just need to be constantly practicing the procedures…that way when something like that does happen, they’re not gonna be in panic.”
So this exercise was a day for practice and discussion.
I caught up with Superintendent of Las Cruces Public Schools Stan Rounds at an earlier event and asked him just how Las Cruces would handle a situation like in Roswell.
“There’s always an opportunity on any given day for an event like Roswell happening.”
“It’s as simple as restricted access…our own security…collaboration with the police department here.”
Rounds says the most important people he can train are teachers.
“All of our teachers in Las Cruces Public Schools have taken active shooter training.”
Again, almost everyone at this training event was an emergency responder or school leader.
Again principal Gabriel Jacquez.
“This has been planned for a while…over a year…one of the next steps is training for staff…in these situations.”