Another school shooting draws attention to readiness in local community

Training exercise for an active school shooter. Photo credit: Sharon Swanepoel

WALTON COUNTY, GA (March 28, 2023) – As the national news reports on yet another school shooting with the March 27 killing of three adults and three elementary school children at a private Christian School in Nashville, local law enforcement agencies hope it never happens here. But they’re prepared for it if it does.

In Nashville, well-trained police officers were able to respond quickly and within 14 minutes had shot the assailant, identified as Audrey Hale, 28, of Nashville. Hale, a transgender who identified on social media as both Audrey and Aiden, was reportedly a student of the school at some time in the past.

In Walton County, public safety departments as well as schools, the hospital and other civic organizations train regularly and conduct exercises to ensure that they will be ready should the call ever come. Inter-agency drill is part of ongoing training of law enforcement and emergency response personnel designed to give multiple agencies practice in coordinating the most effective response possible to an active shooter emergency under realistic conditions. The schools also have safety protocols in place.

Major Scott Whisnant, public information officer with Walton County Sheriff’s Office, said WCSO is committed to its continued work with the Walton County Board of Education and the Social Circle City School District to safeguard against all forms of school violence. 

“Sheriff (Joe) Chapman’s goal is to maintain a School Resource Officer at each school. The cities of Loganville, Monroe and Social Circle also provide School Resource Officers in their jurisdictions. The Sheriff’s Office School Resource Officer Division works closely with every school and jurisdiction in the county and regional area regarding any reported incidents or threats. Sheriff’s Deputies and municipal Police Officers train annually on the latest methods to react to school violence,” Whisnant said. “Many of our employees live in this community and have children in our school systems. We share the community’s concern for the safety of our children and the hope that this community never suffers a tragedy of this magnitude. We will continue to work closely with everyone involved and are invested in the safety of our children.”

The community, including teachers, churches, businesses and civic organizations, are also given the opportunity to undergo lifesaving training for Stop the Bleed and Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events (C.R.A.S.E.) at various times and the county and municipalities have regular occasion to lead in exercises at the different schools. The full series of exercises often includes public safety personnel from surrounding jurisdictions and can include lifeflight evacuations and triaging at the local hospital. This training has been going ongoing for many years now, especially since just one month after Columbine in 1999 there was a school shooting on our doorstep at Heritage High School in neighboring Rockdale County.

At no time is the danger highlighted more than in the aftermath of yet another school shooting. That is when public safety departments and schools reassess their response training and safety protocols.

“We immediately stepped up our patrols around local schools in the city,” Loganville Assistant Police Chief Greg Warnack said after the news of the Nashville School shooting broke on Monday. “Of course we always conduct patrols through the schools, but we did put on extra patrols around all of our schools in the city. We also have SROs in the Loganville Schools and we train regularly on how we would approach an active shooter in our schools.”

We have covered many of the training exercises over the years and some of the more recent ones can be viewed at this link.

Warning: The video below contains some of the scenes from the Walton County public safety training from November 2017. Although it is just a reenacement, it could be disturbing to someone who has gone a through similar real life event.

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