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Training, ubiquitous in era of school shootings, appears to have saved lives in Oxford

Students at Oxford High School in Michigan were huddled together, silent, as a mass shooter stalked their hallways. Then came a voice from just outside the door. “Sheriff’s office,” the male voice said. “It’s safe to come out.”

They paused for a moment. Then someone replied, “We’re not willing to take that risk right now.” The man at the door protested. “Well come to the door and look at my badge, bro.”

With that, the students began to stir. “He said `bro'! He said ‘bro’!” one girl said.

“He said ‘bro.’ Red flag,” agreed a boy.

“Go, go!” someone cried, and suddenly the students all jumped, climbing through a window to the snowy ground outside, and then to safety.

As it turns out, the man outside the door was not the suspect, officials said Wednesday. But the moment, posted on TikTok and then circulated widely on other social media, captured for many not just the fear that gripped the students but the importance of training that has been drilled into American schoolchildren for decades now about how to handle an active shooter situation: with every possible caution.

States and school districts have considered and adopted a wide range of strategies meant to thwart potential attacks. That includes hardening buildings by limiting entry points, locking doors and installing surveillance cameras. Many have stationed police, known as school resource officers, into schools.

But many experts say that none of those strategies matter if students and staff are not properly trained in what to do when confronted with an active shooter.

In the hours after the shooting outside Detroit on Tuesday, Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said that without the measures taken by students, the tragedy would have been worse.

“It is also evident from the scene that the lockdown protocols, training and equipment Oxford schools had in place saved lives,” he said in a statement.

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