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Statement from Pickens Sheriff Office
The Pickens Sheriff’s Office is working hard to keep our community and schools safe.
Due to the recent tragedy in Newtown Connecticut, Sheriff Donnie Craig wanted to assure everyone
that the Pickens Sheriff’s Office is continuing to prepare for what we hope that we never have to experience. “It is unthinkable that violence of this type can occur in our schools, but sadly it does.” Craig stated. Sheriff Craig continued to state, “For years we have all heard and even believed that an event like this could not happen in our town. Unfortunately, we now know it can.”
For the past 4 years, deputies with the Pickens Sheriff’s Office have been training for incidents such as the one that have occurred recently. During this time, deputies have received more than 100 hours of training that specifically relates to what public safety personnel refer to as an “active shooter” scenario. This training began with the development of tactical skills that are necessary in this type of incident. This has grown to include building clearing, case studies of previous incidents involving an active shooter, emergency medical training, hostage rescue, and much more.
During training for 2012, the Pickens Sheriff’s Office has incorporated partnerships with the Pickens County Fire Department, Pickens County Emergency Medicals Technicians, the Jasper Fire Department and the Jasper Police Department. This training has been incorporated to give real life scenarios with role players to simulate what is required to face a mass incident.
Captain Frank Reynolds with the Pickens Sheriff’s Office is responsible for training the staff of the Pickens Sheriff’s Office. Captain Reynolds stated, “Whether the training is for the first deputy to enter the school, the fireman and medic that block the entrance and treats the wounded, or the supervisor that must manage the incident, our focus is to ensure that we are prepared to respond any catastrophe that occurs in our community.” Reynolds went on to say, “We cannot wait for an incident to occur where we live to be prepared. We must train and prepare ourselves before we are faced with a tragedy.”
In addition to working with other Public Safety personnel, the Pickens Sheriff’s Office remains committed to working with the local school system. In 2010, the Sheriff’s Office partnered with the Board of Education and assumed responsibility for School Resource Officers. In addition to the budget allotted by the Board of Education, the Sheriff’s Office has funded an additional position to provide additional security in our schools.
Supervised by Corporal Chris Leake, the School Resources provide first hand protection in our schools. In addition to having deputies in each Middle School and the High School, the Sheriff’s Office has deputies in and out of each Elementary school throughout each day. These deputies provide security, respond to incidents and teach 5th grade students throughout each week. Corporal Leake stated, “By being involved in each school in Pickens County, our deputies have had a chance to develop relationships with each school’s administration and staff. These relationships are critical in developing best practices for a response to catastrophic events that may occur in our schools.”
Sheriff Craig has committed to increasing the level of patrol within our schools to provide our parents with peace of mind throughout each day. Craig went on to say “We have a responsibility to keep our children safe and to keep the peace within our schools. I am working alongside my staff, the Board of Education, our School Principals, and other public safety personnel to ensure that we are providing the best protection that we can within our schools and throughout Pickens County.” The Pickens Sheriff's Office is continuing to plan and prepare additional ways to remain prepared for the worst.
Through the incorporation of school staff in training exercises, the Pickens Sheriff's Office will continue to stay proactive in their commitment to keep the children of Pickens County safe.