FOX19 Investigates: Indiana school bus drivers training for armed assaults

Indiana school bus drivers training for armed assaults

Indiana (FOX19) - TONIGHT AT 10 P.M., FOX 19 Investigates tells you more about this new training video. Go to the FOX19NOW Facebook page to join the discussion, where we want to hear from you whether the videos go too far.

Active shooter training has become commonplace for teachers. Now school bus drivers in Indiana can learn how they might react to an armed person on their bus.

Indiana State Police have teamed up with the Indiana Department of Education to produce two training videos specifically for school bus drivers. The videos show different scenarios of how an unarmed driver could handle active shooter situations.

Sergeant Chris Kath, Indiana State Police school bus safety coordinator, developed the video training tool.

"They're not meant to shock people, but they're meant to make you think," Kath said.

Kath told FOX19 NOW he got the idea for the videos after two violent school bus incidents last year.

In Alabama, a gunman shot and killed a school bus driver and abducted a five-year-old boy. The man then held the boy in an underground bunker for nearly a week before police rescued the child and killed the suspect.

In Arkansas, a knife-wielding man hijacked a school bus with 11 children onboard. After a 10-mile police chase, the man was arrested and the children rescued unharmed.

"Myself as a police officer, I look at things differently. When it happened, I thought to myself, 'Wow, what if that happened here? What would we do?' " Kath recalled. "Last year, I started talking to bus drivers and there's really no training. Nobody's thought of it."

In one of the ISP videos, as the driver approaches a stop, he notices a suspicious man lurking nearby.  The driver decides not to stop and radios for help. Then the same scene is replayed. This time, the driver does stop and after several children get on, the gunman forces his way onto the bus and starts shooting.

"No situation is going to be the same," he said. "These are just ideas and thoughts to get each individual bus driver's creative juices flowing themselves and start hashing out a plan beforehand so that, God forbid, if that actually does happen, they'll have some semblance of an idea of what they're going to do."

Dr. Rich Hogue, a 30-year educator and Indiana State Police school safety liaison, also worked on the project. He said they hope to expand the project to include other potential critical situations, including severe weather.

"You're transporting hundreds of thousands of kids every day," Hogue said. "We need to provide them with a plan -- the bus drivers -- with a plan and options."

In the second video, a withdrawn student gets on a bus and pulls out a handgun and opens fire. This time, three possible scenarios play out.  In each case there's a slightly different outcome, in part depending on how the driver maneuvers the bus.

We showed the video to some parents whose children ride the bus to school in Lawrenceburg.

"Those were very shocking, I don't know who would look at that and not jump back about 14 feet at least," said Rachel Dorion, who has an 11-year-old son. ""I think there is value in showing that to bus drivers. I mean we have to be prepared for uncertainty."

Dorion said she'd have to give serious thought to showing the videos to her children.

As for any concern over copycat behavior, ISP said the video are only for bus driver training.  However, the videos have been posted to vimeo.

All of Indiana's 20,000 registered school bus drivers will have seen at least one of the videos by the end of the year.  ISP also offers live presentations of the video training for interested school districts Kath also said schools in Colorado and New York have expressed interest in using the training.

"Plant the seed and let it grow and ultimately, keep the children safe," Kath said.

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