Virginia shooting serves as grim reminder for Tennessee Highway Patrol of lurking danger

Virginia shooting serves as grim reminder for Tennessee Highway Patrol of lurking danger

June 14th, 2017 by Andy Sher in Breaking News

Alexandria, Va. Police and other first responders block East Monroe Ave. in Alexandria, Va., Wednesday, June 14, 2017, after a shooting involving House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of La, at a congressional baseball practice. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

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At Tennessee's state Capitol, the Virginia shooting was a grim reminder of an ever-present risk for Tennessee Highway Patrol Capt. Tommy Fyke, head of the agency's Protective Services Division.

"I feel like we're on heightened sense of alert every day that we work," Fyke told reporters in Legislative Plaza. "We're always mindful of what could happen. And we try to prepare for active shooters."

The division oversees the state Capitol complex, checking visitors, staff and others into both the actual Capitol as well as Legislative Plaza and keeping an eye on things within the building.

Housed within the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, the department also has an Executive Protection Unit that provides security for the governor and the speakers of the House and Senate.

Last fall, the department conducted an exercise involving an "active shooter" armed not just with a firearm but wearing a suicide bomb vest. Syke said he was "ecstatic" with how the division and others performed in a situation that was made as realistic as possible. Future exercises are on the schedule.

Watching the Virginia shooting events from afar, Fyke said his understanding is that two dignitary protecion agents of the U.S. Capitol Police were present as the shooting at the ballfield erupted.

"They did their job," Fyke said. "They prevented mass casualties."