Very soon our children will be starting back to school. While our children have enjoyed their summer off, your School Resource Deputies and other law enforcement officers have been training to be better prepared to protect our young.
Across the country we have all been horrified to see the senseless acts of violence that have plagued schools. Once bastions of a safe environment, the schools have become targets of people with various warped agendas. Now it is incumbent among law enforcement and school officials to be prepared to protect our students and insure they have a safe environment to study.
Newberry County has been on the forefront of school safety. We were one of the first counties to have a school safety program and employ a school resource officer. Through a series of grants and school partnerships Newberry County was able to place a School Resource Deputy in all the middle and high schools in the county. Thinking ahead, the School District of Newberry County decided there was a need for a supervisor to oversee the safety programs and work in the elementary schools.
I was asked to participate in an advisory council that specialized in rural law enforcement and technology. It was at a meeting that a concept of preparing for an active shooter in the schools was mentioned. I believed the theory was of great importance and brought this back to Newberry County for discussion. Chief Deputy Todd Johnson was asked to sit on a special working group to develop this theory and practice. Because of this, Newberry County became one of the first communities in the nation to train in this technique to respond to an active shooter. However just responding was not enough, Chief Johnson developed programs to train our teachers and children in what to do in the event of an active disturbance or shooter in your schools.
Over the summer your School Resource Deputies, along with most law enforcement officers, trained at Newberry Middle School in the newest techniques of responding to an active disturbance. In addition to the officers, school district principals observed and participated in these drills. The training was well received and valuable knowledge gained.
The Newberry County Sheriff’s Office is very proud of our staff and their efforts to protect our children and teachers. We pray that we will never ever have to use what we spend a great deal of time preparing, but we know that it is better to have the skills and never employ them than not.
It is our pleasure to serve and as always, we are at your service.
Lee Foster is the sheriff of Newberry County.