Eugene police: 'You can't wait in these situations'

Eugene police: 'You can't wait in these situations' »Play Video

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. - Friday's tragedy at a Connecticut grade school brings up the question, could this happen again in Lane County?

After awakening to the news of the horrific violence Friday morning about a Newtown, Connecticut elementary school shooting, Springfield's police chief Jerry Smith said they're planning for the worst, and hoping it doesn't happen.

"Obviously it brings back some memories from 1998 for us," says Chief Jerry Smith.

Memories of Thurston High School where 2 students were killed by gunfire and 2 dozen others were injured.

If school violence happens again, Smith says the game-plan is the same.

"When the Thurston shooting occurred our response was to go in and stop the shooter, and that prevails today," explains Smith.

Across the freeway at the Eugene Police Department, Lt. Eric Klinko tells KVAL News that all police officials know that these situations must be handled correctly.

"Our officers recognize this is a situation where you can't do what used to be prevalent, what you saw at Columbine which was sort of the surround, call out. You can't wait in these situations." said Klinko.

Police said that they've held major joint training sessions every other year since the 1998 Thurston High School shooting, allowing first responders to get ready for every scenario.

Klinko says for the rest of us, self defense begins with awareness of surroundings.

"If you're at a mall, where might be the most logical exits?  Can I get to an exit or would I be better served trying to go into a store and hide there?" said Klinko.

Recent years have brought higher levels of security to school campuses with more fencing and other measures, but bottom line, Chief Smith says those steps can only go so far.

Captain Rick Lewis of Springfield P-D added, "If someone is dedicated to that action, taking a weapon in and actually shooting innocent people then I don't think, you know. The schools can't become a jail facility."

Police say the joint exercises have been held in the past at Valley River Center, Eugene-Springfield high schools and participating large businesses.