‘We want everyone to survive:’ Law enforcement agencies share crisis resources, drills

Both Iredell-Statesville Schools and CMS do lockdown and active-shooter drills throughout the year.
Our education reporter Courtney Cole is asking law enforcement here in our area about their preparation, should the worst ever happen here.
Published: May. 27, 2022 at 6:02 PM EDT
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STATESVILLE, N.C. (CNN/WBTV) - North Carolina law enforcement agencies are sharing the proactive measures they’re making to prepare for crisis situations.

Following the deadly shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas on Tuesday, Texas law enforcement officials said Friday they should’ve engaged the shooter sooner.

Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Col. Steven McCraw answered questions about officers’ response times and actions at a press conference on Friday.

“From the benefit of hindsight where I’m sitting now, of course, it was not the right decision,” McCraw said of the supervisor’s call not to confront the shooter. “It was the wrong decision. Period. There’s no excuse for that.”

Darren Campbell is the sheriff in Iredell County. He says he and his deputies are constantly finding ways to improve their responses and support to schools.

“Law enforcement learned from Columbine there is not a time to wait, for a first responding officer, if it’s an active shooter we have to go in,” Campbell said.

The Iredell County Sheriff’s Office works with schools, churches and other community organizations to do active-shooter training.

“You want to train like you fight, in a situation like this it’s survival, we want everyone to survive it,” Campbell said.

His deputies also have live surveillance feeds where they can see inside of school buildings. He says this technology is especially helpful when responding to incidents.

In addition, they also have a threat assessment team with a designated deputy and detectives who monitor and investigate potential threats to schools.

“Their job is to constantly monitor threats through social media and through communications with kids or information that comes through emails or the app that we actually follow up,” Campbell said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s 6 o’clock in the evening or 2 o’clock in the morning, that’s a full-time group that actually follows up on those threats.”

They’re not the only ones with a threat assessment team.

The Matthews Police Department has one too. In addition, they place school resource officers between five Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and other private schools.

“We have SROs there we have officers that are going there during the day, they’ve stepped up patrols,” Lt. Jamie Matthews with the Matthews Police Department said.

Lt. Matthews says these relationships are critical to response times, communication, and having authentic relationships with staff and students.

“It’s extremely important to have an officer there,” Matthews said. “They’re the first person there, they know the ins and outs of the school that they’re at and generally, they have really good relationships with the administrators and the students at that school. That way they can build a bond, and hopefully get information from the schools freely.”

Prior to 2018, the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office did not have an individual SRO in every Iredell-Statesville Schools elementary school. Sheriff Campbell wanted to make sure staff still had protective measures so he purchased ballistic shields for each elementary school.

They all have SROs now, but the shields are still there in the event students and teachers are facing an active shooter situation.

“We provided training to some of the principals and teachers there as far as the use of shields, ballistic shields to be able to evacuate classes if anything happens, to protect themselves,” Campbell said.

The sheriff’s office has SRO in all elementary, middle and high schools now. They also have different youth engagement programs to build relationships and trust with children in the community.

Both agencies say they also equip their SROs with trauma kits to treat victims.

In an effort to keep more weapons out of schools, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools purchased and installed body scanners at more than 20 high schools.

This came after hundreds of weapons including more than 20 guns were found on several school campuses this year.

Body scanners are placed at designated entrances. All staff, students, and visitors must enter through the doors with scanners.

“If anybody walks in with a weapon obviously it catches it,” Matthews said.

Both Iredell-Statesville Schools and CMS do lockdown and active shooter drills throughout the year.

Related: Cabarrus Co. Schools, law enforcement discuss school safety

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