Jun 25, 2013 12:00 AM by Rebecca Taylor
TUCSON - If you live near Lyons Elementary you may hear shouting and simulated gun fire Monday tonight, and every night through August 7th. The Pima County Sheriff's Department is holding six weeks of training there. Exercise drills will run from 2-11 p.m. daily. Lyons Elementary has transformed into a tactical training ground. It's one of 11 schools recently closed by the Tucson Unified School District. The Sheriff's Department is taking advantage of the property to simulate a reality-based environment. Neighbor Jerry Bennett says exercises actually started a few days ago. "The other night it was 9 o'clock, and we were out here and it was bang bang bang, it was maybe 12-14 shots and I didn't hear anything else," said Bennett. Bennett and some of his neighbors reported feeling a sense of security. "Feel a little bit safer with the SWAT team there and all the Sheriff's and everything, so we're glad they're here," said Rick Bicknell, another neighbor. But not everyone's looking forward to it. At least one residenttells News 4 Tucson that they're concerned actual criminal activity will be ignored, mistaken that it's part of the training. "There's a lot of crime that actually happens in this neighborhood, I was one of its victims. So I understand what people are saying," said Amy Skiles. "Well first off they need to understand that we're Pima County Deputies and we're in the middle of the city. So anything that may need responding it's going to be the Tucson Police Department," said Sheriff's Deputy Tracy Suitt, adding those living in the county shouldn't worry either. "They way they have the scheduling set, maybe one person from each shift will go out to this, we're not taking a lot of deputies off the street for this training," said Suitt. For some, it will be hard adjusting to the sound of simulated bullets over the next six weeks, others feel it's worth it. "In the wake of all the problems at schools nationwide," said Bennett, "it's a good thing that they're taking the time to be ready." The Sheriff's Department chose Lyons Elementary because the utilities, including air conditioning were still on. The department has no plans to hold future training sessions at the Lyons campus.
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