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Officers train to protect schools
SRO Training pic
School Resource Officers Stan Harrison, left, and Steven Swofford engage in an active shooter training simulation at Blacks Mill Elementary School last week. - photo by Michele Hester Dawson Community News

During the summer months, there are not students roaming the halls of area schools, but come August, when class is back in session, officers charged with securing their safety plan to be ready in the event of a dangerous situation.

"It's real important that we stay on top of our game and make sure we're prepared, because the way things are now, you just want to make sure you're ready and able to do the job whenever the time comes, and that you're mentally prepared to do it," said Dawson County Sheriff's Deputy Steven Swofford.

As the school resource officer, Swofford spends his days patrolling the grounds at Black's Mill and Riverview Elementary schools, as well as Riverview Middle School.

Sheriff's spokesman Capt. Tony Wooten said the school assignments are the SROs only duties during the school year.

"That's their only job while school is in session - the safety of the students and the staff," he said. "These guys are going to be in the school if something unfortunate does happen, because they're already there."

The department's resource officers took advantage of school being out for summer last week by performing field training at each campus.

Using paintball and airsoft guns, the officers simulated scenarios involving an active shooter inside the school.

SRO Stan Harrison said it gave them the opportunity to become better acquainted with their respective schools while replicating training that would be invaluable in the event a similar incident was to occur.

"We do this training with the department, but this is the first time just the SROs have got together on our own to do it inside the schools," he said.

Black's Mill Elementary Principal Cindy Kinney said she was relieved to the see the officers and plan of action to protect her students and staff.

"It's nice to see them come and see how big our school buildings are and help us better to form our plan as to what we would need to do in the event we have an emergency of that type," she said.