Over 200 law enforcement officials gathered Wednesday at Stratford High School in Goose Creek to take part in an active shooter drill.
Members of 15 different law enforcement agencies from around the tri-county took part in the drill, meant to simulate as closely as possible an actual active shooter situation. It was considered the largest training exercise of its kind in recent history for Berkeley County School District, according to district spokesperson Brian Troutman.
The drill featured 70-plus volunteers, including students and staff from Berkeley County. The volunteers were put in different areas of the school and some were also given signs designating injuries received in the simulated shooting.
Law enforcement responded to the incident as they would an actual active shooter situation. The drill began at 9:05 a.m., when blank rounds were fired and officers responded. Both resource officers and patrol officers entered the school immediately, with SWAT teams also arriving to clear out rooms; K-9 units entered the scene last to search for weapons and any survivors who may still be hiding or hurt.
At the end of the drill, all of participants went to the auditorium and told the officers the things that went well and things that could be improved.
It took months to plan such a large-scale drill, according to LJ Roscoe, chief of Goose Creek Police Department. The idea was years in the making and was presented by Capt. Dave Aarons, who believed it vital to ensure the safety of students, as well as officers, in the event of a possible future shooter situation.
Roscoe explained the training is important to the officers because they will have something to fall back on in the case of a situation like this arising.
“Studies have shown that officers revert back to their training in a high-stress, high-pressure situations,” Roscoe said. “They need to have the training to revert back to it.”
Eddie Ingram, superintendent of Berkeley County School District, was also in attendance for the drill. He said that the safety of the students and faculty of Berkeley County is a top priority for school officials.
“Safety is the most important value of our school board,” Ingram said.
Ingram also explained that it is important to practice these types of situation so that the school district knows how to react.
“If we practice it then we will have a better idea of what to expect if the unthinkable happens,” he said.
The district’s top leaders admitted that this is different from his own high school experience. Ingram said he remembered being able to carry things like pocket knives and box cutters during his school days.
Ingram said that events like the Columbine High School shooting forever changed how schools operate. He said that he wants to make sure that the schools do everything they can to make sure that the students are safe.
“We want to be prepared; we want the public to know we are prepared,” Ingram said.
Ingram said that the school is doing more for students’ mental health as well. The school board added more mental health counselors in schools. There are also four safety officers in the district as well.
“We strive to be as pro-active as we humanly can,” Ingram said.
In 2019, live rounds were fired on school grounds 24 times.