'It's all about saving lives': BCSD hosts annual SRO summer training
Published on Thursday, Aug. 3, 2022
BCSD photos / Monica Kreber
The seriousness of the situation is palpable, as Sgt. Joey Seegars speaks to a group of school resource officers.
It is nearing 2 p.m. on Tuesday – Day 2 of a weeklong annual summer training session that Berkeley County School District’s SROs participated in this week. On this particular day, SROs have been working hard with the Special Response Team from the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office, learning and recapping tactics to use in the event of an active shooter situation.
It is a difficult subject, to say the least, but as active shooters are changing their tactics, those who are on the front line of defense are working to evolve. Seegars’s words are meant to empower the SROs as he debriefs them in a hallway inside of Goose Creek High, talking about techniques, strategies and the over-arching theme of putting innocent lives above all else.
“We’re going to teach y’all a couple of different techniques… There’s really three things that drive tactics: the mission, the environment, and the manpower and the equipment that you have.”
Video by Dan Michener/BCSD
It is a very action-packed week of training that also includes tactical medical training; presentations on mental health, human trafficking and curbing gang activity; and collaborating with BCSD social workers, administrators and a few outside agencies to prepare for the upcoming school year.
BCSD contracts with five different agencies to put SROs inside schools – Hanahan, Moncks Corner, Goose Creek and Charleston’s police departments, as well as the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office. Tim Knight, director of security and emergency management for BCSD, said the district has been hosting the summer training for SROs for nine years now.
The most intense day of the week is, by far, active shooter training, and it includes members of the Berkeley County Special Response Team who run hands-on scenarios for the SROs.
Knight said they make the scenarios very life-like, and one of the Tuesday afternoon scenarios was influenced by the May 24 shooting that took place at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas.
“It’s so important because we have to get that type of training, otherwise when you’re faced with a real-world situation you may not know how to respond,” Knight said.
BCSD also has several new SROs joining the district this school year, so the district wants to make it a priority to regularly provide training opportunities.
“We want to train our SROs the best we can,” Knight said, adding that BCSD wants them to feel “empowered” by the time the school year starts.
During training, the Special Response Team went over different tactics with the SROs as they maneuvered through hallways and classrooms. They also went over communication with one another, and ways to de-escalate certain situations.
“All of that combined together – the tactics the knowledge, the motivation and the drive to handle the problem – it’s all about saving lives,” Knight said.
BCSD’s Safety and Emergency Management previously met with administrators during the district’s three-day Leadership Conference to talk about “getting back to the basics” of school security – particularly physical security, like locking doors and making sure teachers are familiar with emergency procedures.
“We’ve got new administrators this year, so it was good having a chance to talk to them,” Knight said.
The sheriff’s office also brought its virtual reality training simulator for additional exercises that help SROs with their vocal commands and decision-making. Officers participating in the simulator point fake guns at a screen that emulates real-world situations like ambushes and active shooter situations.
“The good thing with that is…the person running the (simulator) can go back and do a quick debrief with them and show them where their shot placement was, their hits and misses, and critique what happened,” Knight said.
Knight promises BCSD is 100-percent committed to keeping students safe.
“We work very hard, very tirelessly,” he said. “Our SROs are a major component of our overall security initiative. They’re very important to us… Your child’s SRO is very well-prepared to handle any situation this school year.”