Federal law enforcement agencies were in Columbia Tuesday about talking school violence, specifically what agencies and schools can do prevent it.
The United States Secret Service has been expanding these types of forums since last year after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in Florida.
Following the shooting at Columbine high school in April 1999, the Secret Service partnered with the United States Department of Education to study school violence.
Since then, the Secret Service has held 450 training sessions across the country. Dozens of law enforcement departments from across the state were in attendance at Tuesday’s training session in Columbia, including the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office.
“This is kind of different,” said Sheriff Rick Clark, “in where we look at what happens maybe before an active shooter.”
The session focuses on identifying signs of an active shooter and preventing school violence.
Governor Henry McMaster said today, “If you don’t know what a threat looks like, then everything is a threat.”
Law enforcement and educators learn, step-by-step how to examine questionable behavior and identify stressors that may trigger a student to use violence.
Special Agent John Hirt, Secret Service – “The key here is to identify the threat and then assess whether it’s viable or not and if it then you have to manage that threat before it turns into violence.”
It’s a plan officials say is needed, now more than ever.
“These kids who may have troubled homes or mental illness,” said Sheriff Clark. “So we’re trying to take this holistic approach to preventing the shooting before they even happen.”
And here in South Carolina, Gov. McMaster and General Assembly have been working to make sure there is a school resource officer and mental heath counselor in every school.