Posted: Friday, August 12, 2016

Retired FBI Special Agent Leads Review, Calls Greenville County Schools a “Safe Place to Educate Children.”

On August 2, 2016 the Greenville County School District conducted a review of its Emergency Operations. The review was initiated by District leaders and directed by former Special Agent Mike McComas, a twenty-seven-year veteran of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Since his retirement McComas has been contracted by the Federal Government to conduct security and anti-terrorism training internationally. The district received the final report from Special Agent McComas (retired) on Thursday, August 11th.

Participating in the review were representatives from the seven agencies who partner with Greenville County Schools to provide school resource officers and law enforcement services.  Those agencies include the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office, Greenville City Police, Traveler’s Rest, Greer, Fountain Inn, Simpsonville and Mauldin Police. In addition, a copy of the plan was sent to the district’s principals and executive team members. Their input was obtained prior to the meeting for consideration by the group.

The objectives of the meeting were not only to review established protocols, but to build on and enhance the existing policies and procedures by drawing on law enforcement experience and qualifications. Throughout the review the suggestions or recommendations offered were minimal; however, there were extended discussions and approval of the policies and procedures in place. The following is a summary of the suggestions made.

  • There was a consensus that a version of the “Active Shooter Video” already being shown to high school students be shown to middle school students.
  • Additional training in emergency procedures should be provided for all substitute employees.
  • A discussion was held relative to whether every elementary school in the district should have its own resource officer. The group opined that the established “zoned patrols” by sworn law enforcement officers is a more appropriate response.
  • The group recommended that ten first responders in each school be afforded the training and become certified in the National Emergency Management B-Con course.
  • The issue of the district initiating the use of metal detectors at every school was raised. All in attendance agreed the use of metal detectors was neither warranted nor practical given the one isolated incident.  It was determined that metal detectors would likely cause more problems than they would solve.
  • The group concurred with the district’s decision to mandate a timely criminal background check for every field trip chaperone.
  • A number of other minor changes and improvements that were recommended by the group were adopted into the GCS plan. In order to ensure the safety and security of our students and staff those changes are not being made public.

Retired FBI Special Agent Mike McComas commended the group participation and partnerships between education and law enforcement saying, “This collaboration demonstrated the district’s acknowledgement of the importance of their partnership with the law enforcement community and the public in general. The positive comments after the review validated the continuous efforts by Greenville County Schools to provide safety and security to all employees and the students, realizing without safety there is no education.”

After the review Special Agent McComas (retired) called Greenville County Schools a model district and a safe place to educate children. “Their plan extends well beyond simply establishing policies and procedures. Through constant updates, planning and training, the district creates and maintains an environment conducive to education and the overall welfare of employees, students, parents and the public,” McComas said.

While the accidental shooting at Southside High School on May 13 prompted this more comprehensive security review, the district annually reviews its emergency plan and gives the plan a deeper look after any significant incident. Officers who were present at the Southside incident, at the debriefing after the incident, and at the review confirmed the strength of the law enforcement and Greenville County Schools response.

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