Officials constantly working on school safety plans
With an ever-growing disturbing trend of school shootings across the country, both local school and law enforcement officials have stepped up their own efforts to be ready in case that ever happens here.
Russellville police officers worked last week to prep in a high stress environment getting ready for situations they might not otherwise be able to prepare for.
Meanwhile, Franklin County school employees trained inside Red Bay High School Monday, working with a group of law enforcement officials from Lee County.
Members of the Lee County Sheriff’s Office Division of School Resource Officers traveled to Red Bay to work with administrators, teachers and other school personnel in preparing to deal with active shooters inside the school.
“We went over different scenarios that involved guns inside the school and how to deal with those,” said county schools safe and drug free coordinator Cynthia Forsythe.
Forsythe saw the training by the Lee County unit during a conference earlier this summer and asked them to visit Franklin County.
“They have all the equipment, shields and all that you need to put on a good training environment that allows our local personnel to get a good understanding of what could take place,” Forsythe said.
Franklin County Sheriff Shannon Oliver, Hodges Police Chief Mike Franklin and members of the Russellville and Red Bay police departments also took part in the training.
“It is important that we have a good working relationship with all local emergency responders and law enforcement,” Forsythe said. “We all have to work together to make sure our students and teachers are as safe as possible at all times. This was a way for us to get the hands-on training that we needed and it allows us to strengthen the relationships that we have with local agencies.
“Of course we hope we never have to use this training, but we can’t have the mentality that ‘it can’t happen here,’ because it can happen anywhere.”
While county school personnel was busy with their preparations, Russellville police and fire units participated in their own training at Russellville Elementary School.
Russellville Police Chief Chris Hargett said he wanted to put an emphasis on high stress level situations.
“We train and train for all kinds of situations, but we need to prepare for the situations that we can’t control,” he said.
Officers from outside agencies played the “bad guy” roles while noises were pumped in to simulate children screaming and gunfire in the background.
“In a real life situation where an officer’s life is in danger, the stress level will be out the roof,” Hargett said.
“So it’s not the same, but we want to do what we can to make the stress level as high as possible to help prepare them. I hope no one is ever involved in something like this in real life, but it’s an important part of our job to be ready in case we have to.”