GEORGETOWN COUNTY, S.C. (WPDE) — One year ago Thursday, a shooter took the lives of 17 students and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, sparking discussions on classroom safety nationally, and in South Carolina.
“Parkland brought that to everybody’s attention. What more can we do and is more just how we’re gonna respond to an incident, but how can we prevent an incident from occurring,” said Alan Walters, director of safety and risk management for the Georgetown County School District.
Walters was one of 31 administrators, counselors and police officers on the School-Based Behavioral Threat Assessment and Management committee, a group which spent the last three months attempting to answer that question.
They decided the best approach is to train teachers and guidance counselors.
“To hopefully redirect and modify their behavior so it never gets to that point,” said Walters.
The emphasis is to pick up on changing behavior around the classroom and school hallways.
“It can just be bullying happening at the school, [or] threats that are being made, so you have a very wide range,” said Ryan Brown, a spokesman for the State Department of Education.
The group used information from researchers across the country, suggesting most recent school shooters showed visible warning signs before committing the act. Walter’s school district takes strict security precautions, but he said he wanted to prevent, not just prepare.
“That’s what we really want to do. We don’t want behaviors to escalate to the point that these tragedies occur and then in hind sight go back and say, ‘Well these indicators may have been present, we [just] didn’t pick them up.’ So if we can get more proactive on the front end, hopefully we’ll reduce those incidents,” said Walters.