UNION COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – As your kids go back to school, safety is top of mind for most parents.
Union County Sheriff’s Office took 7NEWS behind the scenes as their school resource officers went through training. The officers said it is an intense experience and a training they hope they never have to actually use.
“Your heart rate is accelerating. You’re hearing gunshots, you’re hearing screams and it’s mimicking like a real active shooter situation,” said Deputy Ashley Voiselle.
The resource officers are training for multiple situations and are preparing for the worst.
“We run through everything from active shooter to active shooters, a hostage situation,” said Captain Scott Coffer, with the Union County Sheriff’s Office.
School resource officers train for different scenarios throughout the school, not knowing what they’ll encounter.
“The only thing that’s going through my mind is get to that threat, get to that gunshot,” said Deputy Voiselle.
“With the recent events in Texas, with the school shooting there, you know, we don’t critique them because we’re not there. But we try to take that and use it with everyday life here and say okay, this could happen here at Union County High School, at Jonesville Elementary School,” said Captain Coffer.
The purpose of the training is to get officers as close to a real-life scenario as possible.
“It’s still not the pressure they would be under if it was a live situation, but it will give them some, some background that they, they can count on,” said the Sheriff, Jeff Bailey.
For some of the school resource officers, like Deputy Voiselle, it’s their first time in active shooter training as an SRO.
“These kids, these mothers, these fathers, these grandmothers. Everybody expects us to protect their babies and bring them home safe.,” she said.
Captain Coffer encouraged the officers to listen to what people are saying, even in a chaotic situation.
“You’re going to that threat. You want to alleviate that threat that’s the active shooter. However, they may give you key pieces of information.”
Sheriff Jeff Bailey said each year the training gets more advanced.
“We have some people that have total disregard for human life and, you know, those are the folks that we have to look out for,” he said.
“We come up with how we clear the classrooms, that’s something that we’ve never done before,” said Captain Coffer.
The sheriff’s office said they work with the faculty and staff, so they also have some knowledge of what to do.
“When the live event happens, it may be totally different than what we’ve done, but it just gets them thinking of what they need to do when they respond to a school,” said Captain Coffer.
“The initial shock of the gunshots and you think, okay, it’ll never happen to me, and you’re here and it’s happening,” said Deputy Voiselle.
They hope they never encounter this situation, but if they do, Captain Coffer has a message for parents.
“I promise you this. We’re going to alleviate the threat as quick as we can and we’re going to reunite you with your kid, or kids, as fast as we can,” he said.
The entire training was a collaborative effort between the Union County Sheriff’s Office, Union Police Department, and the Union County School District. Captain Coffer said no plan is ever perfect, but you need a plan if you want to save lives.