Parents Horrified After Police Burst Into School for 'Active Shooter Drill' (VIDEO)

Children were terrified and parents angered after police burst into a middle school in Winter Haven, Florida, and reportedly drew guns on students. But it wasn't a case of cops looking for a perp or cops suddenly going bad -- it was an active shooter drill, arranged to help prepare children for another Sandy Hook or Marysville-Pilchuck.

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The principal announced that the school was going into lockdown mode and children huddled frightened in classrooms. But instead of hearing more instructions, they reportedly began hearing voices in the hallways. One student told Fox 13: "We actually thought someone was going to kill us." Panicked students were texting parents as well as each other.

That's when two men reportedly burst into the classroom, guns drawn.

It was only then that police announced it was a drill, and parents were notified that their children were fine. But some parents are outraged that real guns were drawn -- and that their children were unnecessarily terrified.

However, police and school officials say that the element of surprise is needed in order to truly test a school's readiness in the case of a real shooter. Winter Haven Police Chief Charlie Bird said:

It really is to protect the children and at no point in time would we endanger any of the children.

Polk Schools compared the shooter drill to a fire alarm drill, saying they don't actively warn anyone when those are fake either.

On the one hand, that makes sense. Most of us need the adrenaline and fear of a real encounter in order to move our butts. Plus, you need to have an understanding of the confusion that can ensue when you panic. No matter how many times I did fire drills as a kid, I still panicked and did all the wrong things when I found myself in a real fire. So, yes, in some ways, it makes sense that they'd want to scare the crap out of kids.

However, it also doesn't make sense. A fire drill isn't going to scar a kid emotionally. A shooter drill, when kids don't know it's a drill, can.

Michele Gay, a school safety activist and mother whose 7-year-old, Josephine "Joey" Gay, was killed in the Sandy Hook mass murder, tells The Stir that these active drills, while "well-intentioned" can have many dangerous side effects. She says: "It's potentially psychologically as well as physically harmful to students and teachers. Students and staff might be forced to make a choice such as jumping out of a window and being harmed or staying in the classroom and being shot. They need to know what is real or not. When we train people in CPR, we don't use real choking victims. And when we do fire drills, we don't fill a school with smoke and set a school on fire."

Not to mention how long before someone who truly believes a cop is a shooter injures or even kills the cop?

Michele's school safety education group, Safe and Sound, will be coming out with recommendations that will delineate steps schools should take to ready students and staff for the real life shooter scenario. And those recommendations don't include children and teachers being ambushed by gunmen.

Do you think unannounced shooter drills should be implemented in schools?

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