SDOC considering Armed School Alliance Program

A plan to arm as many as 50 school employees was presented Monday night to the Board of Trustees for the School District of Oconee County (SDOC). Oconee County Sheriff Mike Crenshaw said the Armed School Alliance Program (ASAP) would serve as a deterrent and offer more time for law enforcement to respond to an active shooter situation. “More than anything our intent in even thinking of something like this is to increase the safety of the students in the schools of Oconee County in the event of an active shooter situation. Initially early on we got to thinking in discussions about this it was very important that the school district understood before the sheriff of Oconee County was going to agree to this these folks were going to have to be very proficient. Shooting a weapon is a skill that carries an expiration date. If you learn to shoot a gun today and you don’t shoot that weapon for the next 3-4 years you loose that skill. So, it is important and that is why we have factored in that they would have to not only prove that initial proficiency but also maintain that proficiency on a yearly basis.” There are currently nine School Resource Officers working in the SDOC’s 19 schools; three at the high schools, three at the middle schools and three that rotate between the elementary schools. ASAP would be voluntary and involve rigorous training, said Oconee County Schools Superintendent Dr. Michael Thorsland. “We just want people to know that we are doing everything we possibly can to keep our schools safe. I’m very thankful for Sheriff Crenshaw and the tremendous support that he and his staff offer our schools and I believe that this is a program that can enhance safety in our schools. Again I want to emphasis this is a deterrent program, it is not something where we want employees of school districts to have to carry guns but we do want to deter violence in our schools and we feel like this can be effective in doing that. The signs would be part of the deterrents; we would want people to see that if you come to commit violence in our schools you are going to be confronted, that is a key component of this program to me. But it is also not wide open for employees to participate. There would be a rigorous screening process and a very limited number of employees would be allowed to enter this program. So, it would be very tightly controlled and again a tough process for an employee to go through to be able to participate.” The board will hold further discussion on ASAP and could possibly vote on the program at their meeting next week.