The Elkin Police Department will hold its officer training inside Elkin school buildings this year.
As part of its annual refresher course, officers will train inside the elementary, middle, and high schools. This is in order to practice “rapid deployment,” said Police Chief Monroe Wagoner.
The training is part of the police department’s in-service training program, designed to give officers as much practice in real-world situations as possible. Wagoner said the department tries to get in as much training per year as possible, but officers get in-service training at least once a year.
Wagoner said the drills would be held on Saturdays while no children were present in order to prevent disruption of classes. He said that this was not the first time the department had done this type of scenario.
According to Wagoner, the department has been running rapid deployment drills since the school shooting at Columbine High School in 1999. He said some officers had done it several times, while others were fairly new.
Wagoner said he preferred rapid deployment to the term “active shooter” response because every situation the police prepare for does not have an active shooter. Police may respond to a trespasser or other threats rather than just a shooting scenario.
“It covers a wide variety of circumstances in school situations that may come into play where officers may be required to be there,” said Wagoner. He said the drills were done as often as possible to prepare for anything that has changed in the building.
Wagoner also said that Elkin City Schools did its own in-house training, consisting of lock down drills and other means of preparedness. He said the two entities work hand-in-hand to make sure officers know exactly what to expect when they arrive.
“Elkin City Schools is proud of our relationship with the Elkin Police Department,” said Dr. Randy Bledsoe, ECS Superintendent. “The cooperative efforts between our schools and our police department ensure continued safety measures for our students and staff, and peace of mind for our parents and community.”
“Its like practicing for a fire drill, tornado drill, those types of things. You know, ‘what are we going to do to keep the kids safe?’”
Dates have not been set so far, but it will be on a weekend, Wagoner said. He said the timing was important because of testing for students, and that the weekends were better times for his officers as well.
Wagoner said on weekends his officers could take their time and examine individual rooms and areas without disrupting school and prevent distraction for the officers themselves.
The course will be taught through Surry Community College certified instructors. Wagoner said the department was coordinating with Dean Gordon, Director of Law Enforcement Programs for Surry Community.
Wagoner said he wanted parents to know the police were doing this training and “staying abreast of those things that are high risk for the police and the public as well.”
Bledsoe said the drills “will allow our administrative staff and the Elkin Police Officers to talk about additional safety measures and school security, and will provide the officers a closer look at our facilities in case of a true emergency.”
John Altemueller, head of Elkin City Schools security and maintenance, is in charge of coordinating with the Police Department for the upcoming drill. He said the idea was a very good one.
“I think it is a good idea to have our local law enforcement be familiar with our buildings, and it will take place over the weekend when they are not going to be disturbing classes and not going to have kids upset. I think it is good for all of us,” Altemueller said.
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