CCSO complete active shooter drills at HHS

Published 10:06 pm Wednesday, June 8, 2022

The Crenshaw County Sheriff’s Office descended on Highland Home School Tuesday, June 7, to prepare for something they hope will never happen.

Sheriff Terry Mears and Crenshaw County Deputies, with the assistance of school resource officer Ed Paulk, conducted a school safety training and active duty shooter training in Highland Home School.

Mears said the training and familiarizing the officers with the school’s layout is done once a year.

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“Of course, the school shooting that just happened in Texas is on everyone’s mind,” Mears said. “We do an active shooter training once a year so that if a threat does occur, we have a plan of action and are able to perform our duties right away. The knowledge of what happened in Texas drives us to work even more diligently to ensure our county never sees something like that.”

The deputies performed active duty scenarios, taking down the bad guy (Mears) as quickly as possible (fake guns were used in training).

After the active shooter training, Ed Paulk, resource officer, spoke to the group regarding safety concerns he has observed during his time at Highland Home School. Paulk has already made several changes to the school’s security and has more in the works.”

“The hardest part is that parents of the children in school now and community members that graduated from Highland Home School and many feel the rules do not apply to them,” Paulk said. “Many of them will walk on to campus and go wherever without going through the office and signing in. We have to bring that to a stop.”

“The world is not what it once was,” Mears said, “and we can’t continue treating it like it is. We have to be proactive, not reactive.”

Paulk took the group on a tour of the buildings and pointed out places of concern. One major concern raised during the training was entrance into the school by law enforcement. Currently, the school resource officer has a key card to let others in. However, if Paulk was unable to get to the front door to let officers in, they would have to wait to be buzzed in by the office or break through the doors.

Principal Gary Coleman suggested the deputies discuss master key cards with Crenshaw County Superintendent Dodd Hawthorne. The time saved to enter the school in an emergency situation could save lives.

Highland Home School was chosen for the exercise due to its location. Brantley, Luverne and Crenshaw Christian are all close to local police departments and only minutes from the Sheriff’s Office. With no local police department, Highland Home relies on the Sheriff’s Office as well as ALEA to respond as quickly as possible in an event.