FLORENCE — Florence police were in the midst of training all city schools on what to do in case of an intruder, but now the training is even more urgent.
On Wednesday afternoon, Lt. Mike Holt, along with Sgt. Stephen Robertson, a member of the SWAT unit and supervisor of the department’s school resource officers, met with teachers at Harlan Elementary School as a part of an ongoing program called active shooter training.
Holt said the best way to be prepared for anything is to have a plan.
“It doesn’t matter what — if it’s a plan for bad weather or a plan in case an intruder gets into a school with a gun,” said Holt, a Florence police detective and commander of the department’s SWAT unit.
Robertson said the program consists of a PowerPoint presentation in an effort to give faculty, staff and administrators a better understanding of what to do in case an intruder gets into the school. He was deliberately vague about other details of the program to keep the procedure from being countered should the need to use it arise.
“We talk with them about safety situations and planning and how important that is,” Robertson said.
“This is a way to be prepared, to help school personnel to deal with a situation if something like what happened in Connecticut should happen (here),” Holt said.
Robertson said the department has been working with the Florence school district for about a year conducting this type of training.
“We’re committed to working alongside the city schools and others such as day cares, private schools, churches and anyone who asks for our help, to try and help improve their safety,” Florence Police Chief Ron Tyler said.
Robertson said he is working to modify the program to fit churches and day care facilities.
“We have already started getting calls from churches and day cares with concerns,” Robertson said. “We’re trying to develop a program for them now.”
Lauderdale County school Superintendent-elect Jennifer Gray said the school system’s security supervisor, John Mansell, has spoken with Robertson about training for the county schools.
“(With everything that has happened) everyone is a little more aware of the need for this type of training,” Gray said. “Every school already has safety procedures in place, but this would be a good review for our faculty and staff to add to what we already have.”
Tyler said his department will do what it can to help different agencies with training.
“It’s nothing but preparedness,” Tyler said. “It’s trying to get them mentally prepared just for the unexpected. Hopefully they will never have to use the plan.”
Tom Smith can be reached at 256-740-5757 or tom.smith@TimesDaily.com.