LEXINGTON COUNTY, SC (WIS) - School districts around the Midlands are increasing their active shooter training efforts following a school shooting in Florida that claimed the lives of 17 people and injured more than a dozen.
At Fulmer Middle School within the Lexington 2 School District, a collaboration between administrators and the Cayce Department of Public Safety is designed to keep students and staff safe in the event of an active shooter.
Officer Dan Crews walks the halls of Fulmer Middle School, building relationships and trust with sixth, seventh, and eighth graders.
"My thing I want these kids to know is I'm here," Officer Crews said. "I will protect you if something happens here. That's our job. You're here to study, you're here to learn, you're here to get better. My job is to make sure you have a safe place to do that."
Megan Carrero, the principal of the middle school, says in her ten years of administrative work she's seen a dramatic shift in the conversation surrounding active shooter scenarios.
"It really has taken a less top-down approach as far as what is law enforcement doing and what is administration doing," Carrero said. "It has really evolved into what role do teachers play in this and what is the role that everyone plays in this? It's about empowering our students and that's what our conversation has shifted to."
Officer Crews said students and teachers are taught to shelter in place if it's safe, but if an intruder enters the room it's time to fight back.
"You need to do something because it can mean the difference between life and death," he said.
The school has several safeguards already in place to deter any potential acts of violence. All students and staff wear ID badges, which allow administrators to quickly identify anyone who may be out of place. The badges are a result of the shootings at Columbine High School in the late 1990s, according to the district.
The middle school also has secured entries and cameras on both the inside and outside of the building.
"We want this to be a place where students can feel safe and learn," Carrero said. "We're going to do everything in our power to ensure that's the case."