SLED training at former Gilbert elementary school could be boost to town

Posted 11/23/22

Gilbert might soon become the permanent location for school-based active shooter training.

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SLED training at former Gilbert elementary school could be boost to town

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Gilbert might soon become the permanent location for school-based active shooter training.

The state Law Enforcement Division is currently using the Lexington County town’s former elementary school for this purpose, and future plans could see the site leveraged to train law enforcement from outside the state as well, creating new opportunities for the town.

“There's nothing more important than protecting our children, the greatest resource that we have are our children,” SLED Chief Mark Keel said. “They and their teachers and administrators should certainly feel safe by going to school and that’s what our effort has been”

During a Nov. 15 Lexington County School District 1 meeting, Keel spoke along with Senior Special Agent Wayne Freeman, the agency’s statewide training lead, who shared a presentation about how they’re using the site. Freeman spoke about how SLED has been using the location for three years and shared some of the benefits and plans for the location.

“[We want] to provide high-quality, repetitive training to all requesting parties in the area of active violence and complex coordinates terrorist attacks.” he said. “Those services will be on par with any training available in the nation and will be provided at no cost to South Carolina residents, visitors and cooperating training partners.”

According to SLED, the town gains a few things by housing the training facility, including an increased law enforcement presence. And with more people visiting the town, it could potentially boost local commerce.

Mayor John Reeder III said he has been discussing SLED’s usage of the school and hopes to have a partnership with them.

“It's good for law enforcement all over the state.” Reeder said. “Being a former law enforcement officer myself, you know, I think it's a good thing.”

The partnership with Lexington County School District 1 creates a centralized training location allowing for convenient access to logistics and training space that can potentially be used by  law enforcement, fire, EMS, hazmat, SWAT and other services, the SLED representatives said, adding that it could also be used to train educators in safety measures.

“We want to expand the training available to Special Needs teachers and assistants to make it easier to barricade a room, react to violence, recover from violence, and move those students to reunification,” Freeman said, explaining one potential use.

“There is no such thing as ‘run, hide, fight,’ that quote-unquote system that everyone uses.” he added. “It's ‘hide, hide, fight,’ and it's time that the United States actually acknowledged that special needs children, students, teachers and assistants, they have special needs.”

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