BROOKSVILLE - When six SWAT team members want to inspect multiple buses from top to bottom at 9 a.m. on a Wednesday, they don't always call ahead.
But this was training day at the Hernando County School District's bus compound, and fleet manager Joe Handzus was glad to see them.
"They can do it as much as they want, by all means," Handzus said. "Because if you think about it, it would be an easy thing to take a bus hostage."
The hard part is neutralizing a threat on a moving bus while ensuring the safety of 36 passengers, and that scenario gets more complicated when it's one of five bus models with significantly different hardware.
That's why Deputy Dane Jenkins was taking notes.
"The training is to disable the bus," Jenkins said. "We want to be prepared if anything happens."
This is regular training, too, said transportation director Doug Compton, which Hernando County Sheriff's Office SWAT does once a year at the compound.
"There are many ways to shut down a bus without going through the key ignition," Compton said. "Either surgically or with rifle fire, you can shut them down."
Shop foreman Todd Daniels took the SWAT team members bus to bus, explaining the components and methods for manually disabling the engine from the side and back of the vehicle.
The situation they were training for has never happened in Hernando County, Handzus said.
"Bus hostages have happened in other parts of the country, and I hope it never happens here," Handzus said.
"But it's nice to know these guys will be ready if it does."
"You can never be too prepared," Compton said. "It's a plus we have them out here."
The training lasts about five hours, Compton said.