Reality-based training prepares Bexar County deputies for dangerous active shooter situations

‘We want to make sure that we’re ready when the time comes,’ sheriff says

SAN ANTONIO – Reality-based training is nothing new to the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office, but the scenarios they face continue to evolve, and they must always prepare for the worst.

This type of training is supposed to look, sound, and feel real, but it’s not. Its goal is to simulate the stress of a life-or-death situation.

“Active shooter calls are something that we all dread getting, but we all know it’s just a matter of time before we get one. So we want to make sure that we’re ready when the time comes,” said Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar.

Salazar showed our KSAT crew an exercise where deputies had to stop an active shooter inside a school. The instructor’s job was to make the deputies feel like the situation was real.

“Their adrenaline is going. They’re feeling the sting of the sim-ammunition rounds that we’re hitting them with. Only then can we even come close to capturing what it’s like in a real-world scenario,” Salazar said.

The sheriff said when there is an active threat, the first person on the scene is supposed to go in.

“We don’t sit and wait. We don’t wait for SWAT. We get in there and handle business with what we have on hand,” Salazar said.

After watching one scenario, they prepped me and put KSAT’s John Paul Barajas up to the test. He was tasked with entering the school first, checking rooms, but consistently moving toward the sound of gunfire.

“I got hit three times with the sim ammunition, but thanks to my partner, we neutralized the threat,” he said.

Another reality-based training exercise vital to the department is dealing with mental health.

“You can’t graduate until you successfully complete this. It’s not something we can afford -- to send someone out into the real world knowing full well that they weren’t able to handle those scenarios,” Salazar said.


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About the Authors:

John Paul Barajas is a reporter at KSAT 12. Previously, he worked at KRGV 5 in the Rio Grande Valley. He has a degree from the University of Houston. In his free time, he likes to get a workout in, spend time on the water and check out good eats and drinks.

Adam Barraza is a photojournalist at KSAT 12 and an El Paso native. He interned at KVIA, the local ABC affiliate, while still in high school. He then moved to San Antonio and, after earning a degree from San Antonio College and the University of the Incarnate Word, started working in news. He’s also a diehard Dodgers fan and an avid sneakerhead.