DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS)It’s after school, but Dallas Independent School Distirct’s police force is still at work, learning how to confront an armed individual. In a training exercise, each officer takes their turn facing a suspect alone.

It is a likely scenario, as most middle and high schools have just one officer assigned to them. “As soon as you turned around, you were faced with that threat,” said Officer Marvin Henderson.

Running through the drill, Officer Henderson found a knife-wielding suspect – or, rather, a colleague acting out the part with a rubber knife. The officers are armed with real guns, loaded with paint bullets.

Officers take the exercise seriously, though. The skills they’re learning could one day save their lives – and the lives they’re charged with protecting.

“Working as a school officer, it’s my job to stop that threat and protect everyone within that school,” said Henderson.

The training is one of many new initiatives at DISD, inspired by the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.

“After Newtown, we had to take a look at ourselves and find out – were we doing everything that we needed to do. And I think, we realized that, no, we weren’t,” said DISD Police Chief Craig Miller.

In the last year, Dallas ISD has spent more than $4 million on increased security.

Buzzers and electronic doors now control access to elementary schools, while new cameras keep watch over hallways. The results, Chief Miller says, are promising.

“I can honestly say that a year later, we are better.  We’re better prepared, we’re better trained.  Our kids are safer,” he said.

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