School resource officers prepare for "Worst Case Scenarios"

Classes starts in less than a week in some school districts around our area, and teachers and parents aren't the only ones preparing for kids to fill the halls and classrooms.

"We're going to go through the safe school facilities checklist today," said South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy training officer Tacauma Lettsome to a group of school resource officers from Horry and Marion Counties.

At the Academy of Arts in Technology, Lettsome led 14 resource officers in an advanced course for crisis response plan.

The course gives officers training for procedures and possibilities for the upcoming school year, all with the goal of protecting students.

"In this day that we're living in, things are a lot more dangerous in reference to unexpected events in our society that cause for unwanted killing," said Lettsome.

"I hope it never does come to, but if it does, I'm prepared to do what I need to do to protect the faculty and staff and students and protect our children," said the Academy's SRO David McCallum. "My one job is to protect our children and as soon as I walk in this school, I make sure I'm in a position everyday where most of the kids coming into the school can see me. Just so they know I'm here."

Preparing for a worst case scenario is all too real for SRO's in our area.

In 2009, a student at Carolina Forest High School brought a knife to school and stabbed a resource officer working there, and in 2010, a student at Socastee High brought gun to school and shot and wounded the high school resource officer.

"May possibly in the future happen sometime again," said McCallum. "This is one of the classes we take to help us if that does occur."

The training also covered how SRO's dealt with numerous bomb threats last year.

"You never know when it's going to happen in your school," said Lettsome.

And the tactics officers will use can not be shown.

"It puts us at a disadvantage," said Lettsome, "because anyone can see what we're doing and train to combat it."

And training for worst case scenarios also means preparing for natural disasters.

"Whether it be active shooter, whether it be hurricane, whether it be tornado, or earthquake drills, we just want to get it across to our officers to be prepared to deal with any type of crisis that happens in the school," said Lettsome. "It's all about your mindset. If you are trained to win, when you're put inside the heat of battle, you will compete, and you will be victorious."