Local law enforcement agencies came together to discuss what would happen if a mass casualty event, such as a mass shooting, were to take place in Texoma. About 40 representatives from a number of local law enforcement agencies met at Grayson College Wednesday afternoon to provide a panel for the different agencies to discuss how to interact with the professional news media in the case of a mass emergency.

Sherman Police Department Chief of Police Zachery Flores said accountability and getting timely, accurate information out to the public were among the most important topics during emergency events.

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“We realized accountability of our people is very important,” Flores said. “The very nature of first responders is to attack an issue, to make sure it gets resolved whatever that matter is. We also know there is an accountability need. We need to know where are people are, what their tasks are. When a mass casualty event happens, it is going to drain a lot of resources.”

U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas Joe Brown organized the event to bring law enforcement agencies together in an effort to better understand how to coordinate in the event of such a major crisis.

“We know the chances that the bad things that happen around the country could come to the local area,” Brown said. ” We don't want the first time officers get together for an emergency for them to be meeting each other. We want there to be open communication, to explain what is going to happen if bad stuff happens.”

Brown said it was important agencies learned to cooperate not only with one another but also with the media outlets providing information to the public.

“The main thing discussed is what are we going to do if the worst happens,” Brown said. “We want to open up lines of communications. We want officers to know their federal counterparts, to know what resources are out there. We want our local people to know what the media expectations are going to be when the worst things happen. We want to practice as much as we can knowing we can never foresee everything that could happen. But, we want to be as ready as we possibly can.”

The primary media expectation is openness, Brown said, and the public needs to know how serious a situation is. There are a lot of types of information that cannot be released but they want agents to know before hand what those expectations are, he continued.

“Officers think safety first,” Brown said. “They want the public to feel comfortable with the situation. Once they get security on the scene then they are thinking about protecting the integrity of the investigation. Part of the thing we did today was talk about lessons learned in other places. We had everybody already thinking about the important things when it actually happens.”

Brown said he organized the event as a way to get the local law enforcement agencies thinking about how to work together with surrounding agencies from the different levels.

“I wanted them to start thinking broader,” Brown said. “Thinking about what happens when you have to interact with the media on a national level if a bad thing happens, if federal officials or other state officials come into town that is a big event. We want them thinking about that, we want them planning for it. It was important for me to bring all those different agencies together.

Public information officers who have experience interacting with the media talked to the officers who attended the panel and shared media expectations and the lessons learned in those situations.

There were representatives from Texas Rangers, ATF, FBI, Sherman PD and Grayson County Sheriff's office leading discussions during the day. There were agents from the Texas Department of Public Safety, Oklahoma Highway Patrol, Sherman Police Department, Sherman Fire Department, Denison Police Department, Grayson County Sheriff's Office, Van Alstyne Police Department, Howe, Police Department, Bonham Police Department, Fannin County Sheriff's Office, Gainesville Police Department, Cooke County Sheriff's Officer, Grayson County District Attorney's Officer, Fannin County District Attorney's Officer, North Texas Fusion Center as well as US Marshals , FBI and ATF.