Law Enforcement Leaders Urge Additional Equipment, Joint Training Following May Active Shooter

BAY COUNTY, Fla. - Exactly two weeks ago, local law enforcement found themselves in the middle of an active shooter situation.

While the all day event ended with the death of the shooter, no officers or first responders were hurt.

However, there are lessons to be learned, and as News 13's Alex Thorson reports, things to do better, should that ever happen again.

"The notion that it can't happen here is certainly something that's not even in our vocabulary," Bay County Sheriff Tommy Ford said.

May 22 was proof that anything can happen, anywhere.

"We haven't seen anything to this magnitude in the amount of shots fired, not in my career at this agency," Scott Ervin, Panama City's police chief, said.

Thanks to law enforcement, what could have been, didn't happen.

"We could have a lot more injuries. We could have had, like you said, mass casualties," Ervin said.

Just one civilian was injured. On that day, local law enforcement agencies worked together.

"For not having practiced on a regular basis together, they just jumped right in," Ervin said.

The chief said he wants to see more of that.

He and Sheriff Ford agreed that Panama City Police Officers and deputies from the Bay County Sheriff's Office will now train together.

"If we have an incident in Springfield tomorrow, or another city, how are we going to respond and how can we best help that agency," Ervin said.

The active shooter situation also brought to light some equipment needs in Panama City.

A Walton County Sheriff's office armored vehicle helped bring residents and officers to safety.

"Those armored vehicles don't move very fast and so it takes time. Having something like that is something we're going to look at," Ervin said.

Sheriff Ford said the department received a grant and ordered a Bearcat armored vehicle in January. He said it will arrive within the year. 

"We've got that coming, and I sure wish it would have been here two weeks ago. It just goes to show the critical need to have that equipment and soon we'll have that here," he said.

Chief Ervin thanked the community for it's overwhelming support following the May 22 situation.

Later this month, every sheriff's deputy will go through real-life active shooter training at a local school.

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