GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) – Before the halls at Pine Street Elementary fill up with students safety plans are forming. What was once unthinkable is now an unfortunate reality as officers train to keep your children out of danger this school year.
Spartanburg Police Lieutenant Justin Colegrove said, “Each shot that goes off is another life that’s potentially in danger.”
Lieutenant Colegrove is a Spartanburg Police SWAT Team member and the course instructor for active shooter training. The training is annual, but it’s never the same. He said, “Last year we did the same thing, same school. We did it in four-hour blocks. We realized that four hours is not necessarily enough. So, we doubled it this year.”
For this school year, single-officer response is the focus. “The tactics you see here today is going to be a lot different than what we would do in a SWAT team or team dynamics,” said LT. Colegrove.
He explained the reasoning behind this year’s approach. He said, “A lot of schools have maybe a single SRO (school resource officer) unit, or if something is dispatched, it’s going to be the closest officer’s going to get there, and you’re going to get there by yourself, and you and you don’t need to be waiting around when the shots going off.”
He continued, “And we, kind of, have to look at the current trends in society and what’s going on across the world and how we’ve had failures in the past and law enforcement. How can we negate those failures going forward?”
Principal at Pine Street Elementary, Dennis Regnier, said, “I would like parents to know that we’re doing everything that we can to help keep kids safe.”
Besides the principal’s office, Pine Street Elementary is empty during part of the summer, making it perfect for this different kind of lesson.
Regnier said, “I do hate that we have to have this type of training, you know, we have, we do fire drills, we do tornado drills, we do evacuation drills with the students, and that can be, you know, I hate that we have to do some of those as well, just because even those types of things with the kids can be a little traumatic for them.” He continued, “Anytime we do an evacuation drill where we have that type of thing, I always, I have a note that I send to my parents, and I ask them to make sure they talk with their children about that. Do they feel safe at school? And if they don’t feel safe, tell me, tell me why. You know, so that we can look at specific things that we might need to address here.”
The training breaks down into three sections: medical, paper targets, and a simulation with real acting.
In the medical section, officers are taught how to pack and help stabilize different kinds of gunshot injuries, truncates, and more.
LT. Colegrove said, “A lot of times we in law enforcement get caught up in just taking out any threats and stopping the bad guy that we forget that you know, there’s other things that we can do to be saving lives.”
After the medical section is finished, officers move on to paper targets.
Officers go into the classroom with their weapons drawn. Those weapons are firing paintball rounds at paper targets. Some are obvious, but others are meant to test the officers’ skills.
The lieutenant explained, “We have to understand that our shots count. You know, are we shooting somebody that may have their hands up just because we see a target and identify? We can’t be doing that kind of stuff.”
He continued, “We’re accountable for every single action we take. And this is the time to have those errors and fix them before we get out there and make any egregious errors anywhere else.”
Then, after that section finishes, officers move on to the final part of the course, the simulation with real acting. LT. Colegrove said, “I have three children myself. I had some of my kids up here as role players. It’s tough to think about this kind of stuff, but the reality is that we’re continuing to better ourselves to serve our community. Those kids are what counts for us.”
As those students make their way back to the classroom, Principal Regnier hopes it’s a safe school year. He said, “I very much hope that we, we never see these guys other than when they come in here in the summer or come to visit their friends and family.”
It’s a hope shared as the new year gets underway.
CLICK HERE for resources from the FBI about active shooter situations.
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