Posted: Thursday, January 17, 2013

Zoned Security Patrols to Provide Additional Security for GCS Schools

Zoned security patrols, utilizing off-duty personnel from the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office, Greenville Police Department and Mauldin Police Department, will begin Tuesday, January 22, at Greenville County Schools’ elementary schools and centers that do not already have an on-campus security presence.

The off-duty officers, jointly funded by the school district and law enforcement, will patrol schools in defined geographic areas multiple times each day. During patrols, they will check both inside and outside school buildings, monitor school entrances, assess security procedures, and provide a visible law enforcement presence each school day. The daily patrol schedule will vary so routines are not established. Plan specifics such as the number of officers are not being released to safeguard security.

“While school remains one of the safest locations for young people, we must continually evaluate and enhance school security,” said Superintendent W. Burke Royster. “We have considered various approaches for additional security personnel and believe our students and staff are best protected by professional, highly trained personnel who can provide both a highly visible deterrent and a timely and appropriate response to any situation.”

The sole responsibility of the law enforcement officers conducting zoned patrols is protection of students and staff. This initiative is in addition to school resource officers in all middle and high schools who provide a wide-range of law enforcement services including investigating crimes and building supportive relationships with students. At facilities included in the zoned patrols, law enforcement services such as investigation of crimes will continue to be provided by the appropriate law enforcement agency based on jurisdiction.

“We have a great working relationship with and respect for the local municipalities’ police departments, and without their cooperation, this initiative would not be possible,” said Royster. “For years, GCS and the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office have jointly funded a School Enforcement and Investigation Division, and it is through this already existing management framework that the security patrols will be coordinated.”

The zoned security patrols are part of the school district’s comprehensive approach to school safety that includes ongoing security evaluations of each school, enhancements to building security based on those evaluations, regular lockdown and other safety drills, required visitor sign-in, secure school entries, video monitoring, telephones in classrooms, and additional safety training for school staffs. The district has also established an email address (safeandsecure@greenville.k12.sc.us) and phone number (452-SAFE [7233]) to report observed security breaches or share ideas about enhancing the school district’s safety protocols. Threats against students or personnel should still be reported immediately to law enforcement or school administrators.

The school district’s safety and emergency preparedness efforts are administered by a Coordinator of Safe Schools and Emergency Preparedness, who is a veteran law enforcement officer with vast experience in emergency planning. School and district level safety plans are based on a national model that provides a common framework and terminology that is used nationwide by law enforcement and other emergency responders.

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