County schools, sheriff undergo intruder training

Becky Campbell • Apr 5, 2013 at 10:15 PM

Washington County school administrator Dr. Susan Kiernan had an ‘ah ha’ moment Friday when she learned a school lockdown isn’t always the best approach when faced with a school intruder situation.

Kiernan, assistant director of Washington County Schools, participated Friday in Armed Intruder training through Safariland Training Group from Jacksonville, Fla. Kiernan and a dozen or so county officers took part in the pilot program that teaches various techniques to address a potential threat to students or the school as a whole.

“This is another example of Washington County Schools doing partner work with the sheriff’s department. There are some new ways of keeping our schools safe and the director and our board have gone on record as doing everything we can to make our schools safe,” she said.

We’re having more training in May and this is a warm-up for that.”

Kiernan said one of the new techniques is “to run as opposed to a lockdown ... running to get away from the situation.” Previous training for teachers has always focused on locking classrooms and gathering students into a corner away from the door or windows, she said.

Safariland, a law enforcement training and equipment supplier, developed the program, and Washington County officials got in on the ground floor of executing it.

WCSO Capt. Bryan Horton said Sheriff Ed Graybeal approved funding the $3,000 training and is committed to providing the best options for officers to deal with an armed school intruder.

“The sheriff decided we needed to do something in the schools in Washington County,” Horton said. Sheriff’s officials talked to the school system about the new training program Safariland offered.

“Any time you can prepare your children or your grandchildren, you give them an advantage,” Horton said. His 6-year-old granddaughter and about 30 other volunteers will help out today as officers practice what they learned Friday and conduct training drills at David Crockett High School.

In May, sheriff’s officers being trained this weekend will teach 60 county teachers and administrators how to address armed intruder situations. Kiernan said by the end of this school year, every teacher and administrator in Washington County will have been trained.

Horton said this kind of training does not replace school resource officers, but enhances student safety until officers can arrive if an armed intruder makes their way into the school.

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