In response to last week’s terrorist attack in nearby San Bernardino – which took place at a county government holiday party – Orange County officials are planning a series of active shooter trainings for county employees here.
At Tuesday’s county supervisors meeting, Chairman Todd Spitzer called for a “comprehensive assessment” of the county’s safety protocols, particularly hands on-training for employees and a review of emergency response plans.
“If we don’t train, we will not save lives,” Spitzer said, speaking to dozens of county employees gathered in the chambers.
The training, he added, would include “how to use items in your workplace to defend yourself…it might be a decanter, it might be a paper clip holder.”
Spitzer asked county CEO Frank Kim and Sheriff Sandra Hutchens to return with an action plan by the supervisors’ Jan. 26 meeting.
Hutchens sought to calm fears, pointing to numerous efforts by her sheriff’s department to prevent terror attacks, and respond effectively in the event one occurs in the county.
That includes the Orange County Intelligence Assessment Center, a so-called “fusion center” where information about potential threats is vetted, and over 4,200 medical, law enforcement and fire workers who are trained in recognizing and reporting potential terrorist behavior.
Hutchens said she plans on setting up a two-hour active shooter response course for county workers, which empowers them to know what to do in a active shooter event.
Singers from the USO also performed the national anthem, in honor of the people of San Bernardino.
In last week’s massacre, which was the deadliest terrorist attack in the U.S. since 9/11, a San Bernardino County health inspector and his wife shot and killed 14 people at a holiday party for the county health department. The FBI says both shooters had been radicalized, with the wife allegedly pledging allegiance to ISIS in a Facebook post around the time of the shooting.
Among the victims of the attack was Yvette Velasco, a San Bernardino County health inspector and niece of Denise Velasco, who works for the Orange County Employees Association and represents Probation Department workers in labor negotiations.
At the end of Tuesday’s meeting, Supervisor Lisa Bartlett read a dedication to the memory of Yvette Velasco who, at age 27, was one of the youngest victims of the shooting.
The Probation Department will be collecting donations for the Velasco family, Bartlett said. The family also set up a donation page at GoFundMe, which has raised over $30,000 as of Thursday afternoon.