School district and law enforcement officials discuss campus security – Beaufort SC The Island News

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By Tony Kukulich

Following the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas that left 19 elementary students and two teachers dead, Beaufort County officials held a news conference to address concerns about the shootings in schools and school safety.

Beaufort County School District Superintendent Frank Rodriguez was joined by law enforcement officials north and south of the Broad River as he spoke to reporters at the Sheriff’s Office headquarters in the Beaufort County.

“I know we all held our children a little tighter today and a little longer today as we all saw and heard of the devastating tragedy at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.” , Rodriguez said. “Our hearts and prayers go out to their entire community.”

The press conference took place a day after the shooting and many details of the incident were still unknown at the time. It has since been widely reported that three Uvalde Police Department officers engaged the shooter, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, two minutes after he entered the building at 11:33 a.m. Two of these agents were injured superficially during an exchange of fire with Ramos. , and the officers then withdrew.

When the parents of the students at Robb Elementary School gathered at the school, it took about another 75 minutes before officers entered the two adjoining classrooms occupied by Ramos. A specialized team of US Border Patrol officers fired 27 times, killing Ramos. He is believed to have fired more than 100 rounds from one of two assault rifles purchased legally days before the shooting. In addition to the 21 dead, more than a dozen were reportedly injured.

Criticism of the police response to Uvalde’s shooting came from all corners. The incident investigation and police response is being handled by the Texas Rangers.

Rodriguez said his office only took a few calls from relatives after the shooting. Most asked about the availability of mental health services for students in the district and the presence of school resource officers (SROs) in schools in the district.

Bluffton Police Chief Stephenie Price stressed the importance of using the county’s free mental health resources for students in need and the need to report any concerns about the threat of violence to district officials or from school.

“The best thing we can always do is prevent something like this from happening in the first place with the support and services students might need,” Rodriguez added.

Middle and high schools in the Beaufort County School District have assigned SROs. Elementary schools use a private security company that was rolled out in the fall of 2021. District board guidance indicated that the private security company should eventually be phased out in favor of using ORS from local law enforcement agencies.

“We look forward to the opportunity to continue integrating additional ORS into our school system,” Rodriguez said. “Generally from the state, there is usually the option of trying to integrate an additional two SROs per year if they are available. This is something we will continue to do. »

Active shooter training is done repetitively, Beaufort County Sheriff PJ Tanner said. This formation includes several local agencies as well as other first responders who would typically be expected to respond to an active shooter incident.

“School safety is something we all talk about on a fairly regular basis,” said Chief Dale McDorman of the Beaufort Police Department. “We are doing everything we can to resolve these issues before they arise, and we will continue to do so.”

Tony Kukulich is a recent transplant from the Lowcountry. Originally from Wilmington, Del., he comes to The Island News from the San Francisco Bay Area where he spent seven years as a reporter and photographer for several publications. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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