Friday, April 20, 2018

Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Joe Hensley and Stillwater County Chief Deputy Woody Claunch search the area for evidence as the suspect is seen standing between them in custody in 2012.

Getting the tools to survive until help arrives

When things go wrong, they go wrong in a hurry.
The Stillwater County Sheriff’s Office wants to help the community be as prepared as possible for workplace violence by offering training to help people know what to do before help arrives.
A two-day class titled “Workplace Violence: Preparation and Response” will take place Feb. 2 and 3 with the goal of “preparing potential victims to protect themselves before law enforcement and EMS arrives,” said Stillwater County Undersheriff Chip Kem.
The idea is to give businesses, churches, hospitals and schools an idea of things they can do should a violent incident take place, such as an active shooter. Topics slated for discussion include threat assessment, site surveys and security/emergency planning.
The class will be taught by National Tactical Officers Association instructor Don Alwes — who developed the training. It is the first time the course will be presented in Montana. It has been making the rounds nationally for just a few years.
“It’s kind of a new concept,” said Stillwater County Undersheriff Chip Kem.
The new part is the emphasis on what steps can be taken to prevent violent situations as well as steps that can minimize damage when something has occurred or is occurring, explained Kem.
For example, businesses should probably not leave back doors open for employees as that could potentially invite trouble.
Kem said the training is some nine years in the making. He met Alwes in 2008 at an NTOA active shooter class training in California. In a conversation that extended after the class was finished, Kem and Alwes discussed creating a class specifically geared toward businesses and groups.
Paying for the two-day class is the Montana Disaster and Emergency Services. County DES Director Carol Arkell said locally, the county will be using the training to prepare
“What do we do to protect our employees?” said Arkell.
There is space for 50 attendees so Kem and Arkell recommend that one representative of each business, church or organization attended and then pass along the information. Follow-up site surveys will also be conducted with local agencies to develop plans specific for each organization interested.
The registration deadline is Jan. 31. Register with Arkell by calling 322-8060 or emailing her at Kem can also answer questions and he can be reached at 322-5323 or

Although an active shooter scenario has never taken place in Stillwater County, there has been an incident in which law enforcement and a fugitive ended up in the middle of Columbus.
On a Wednesday morning in 2012, a populated Columbus business and residential street became a crime scene when a high speed chase, crash and foot pursuit played out.
The incident started when a man in a stolen car refused to stop for a sheriff’s deputy, reaching speeds of 110 mph on I-90 before bringing the chaos to Columbus.
After running over spike strips set up at the exit ramp, the driver was able to continue the chase down Pike Avenue and on then on North Fourth Avenue before the tires gave out and he crashed the car into what was then the Stillwater Abstract and Title building.
With patrol cars blocking a 2-block radius of the area to prevent an escape, the driver jumped from the car and fled on foot, with a deputy giving chase. After running behind a group of businesses, he was arrested at gunpoint.
The scene played out on a busy street occupied by approximately eight businesses, including the Stillwater County Library and a preschool, as well as residential apartments. The Columbus Elementary School was a block away.