NICEVILLE, Fla. (WKRG) — 50 School Resource Officers in Okaloosa County gathered at the Northwest Florida State College Wednesday for annual active shooter training.

“The schools are a target you know,” said Sheriff Eric Aden. “And if there’s anything that comes out of a tragic event, such as Uvalde, Columbine, Sandy Hook, and then of course Marjory Stoneman Douglas in 2018 it’s legislation. It’s funding. It’s trying to take corrective measures.”

Every school in Okaloosa County has one SRO, the high schools have two patrolling the halls. With instruction from trained federal officers, the SRO’s one-by-one were called into a live-action scenario with an active shooter inside a classroom.

“I personally feel like training like this is going to get me an advantage over some kid that’s been gaming in their in their house for the last five years. You learn concealment. You learn cover. You learn crossfire.”

Veterans and incoming deputies completed tasks while needing to keep their calm and be efficient.

“The one thing that I wanted to do is to reiterate to our citizens that we’re not going to hesitate. We’re not going to wait. It’s in the mindset. It’s in our DNA that we’re going to go in in the event of a threat. We know every day that we put on that badge and that gun that we could pay the ultimate sacrifice. That’s an expectation,” said Aden.

Sheriff Aden worked as an SRO in 1997. He shared what the biggest difference is with training back then and today.

“The answer is easy, we didn’t have it in ’97. We really started seeing the need for that until 1999 after Columbine. We really didn’t start putting it in place until 2012. We’ve had active shooter training here for years, but not where we focus on SRO’s working in the schools,” said Aden. “But to that point, the school system after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Commission met, they put into place things like the fortifications, the hardening, the fencing, the single point entries, all of the different things, not just the technology, but all the hardening that we saw of our schools. This school board was one of the first ones that put those things into place in the state and we are the security leg of that.” 

Okaloosa County School District Superintedent Marcus Chambers confirmed every school in the district will have a single point of entry by the end of the 2022-23 school year. Chambers said this accomplishment is three years ahead of their saftey strategy plan.

Aden said the best way students and parents can help SRO’s and OCSO as a whole this year is to see something, say something or hear something, say something. The school year in Okaloosa County begins Wednesay August 10.

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