These drills were utilized to train school staff and law enforcement in the event of an armed intruder, hostage situation and other emergency situations at the schools.
Members of the school staffs participated in the drills as perpetrators, hostages and first responders.
Both school districts that participated felt the “real- world” training allowed them to review and update their current procedures.
“The drills were a great way to learn,” Union Grove Supt. Brian Gray said. “The Upshur County Sheriff’s Office did an outstanding job of preparing our staff and training us how to handle difficult situations.
“It was a great team effort. It was a learning experience for everybody,” he said.
All members of Union Grove faculty and staff, 114 in all, attended the training.
Harmony High School Principal Dennis Glenn said that the training was “very informative and showed holes in our plan that we are now able to correct.”
Principal Glenn and about 40 members of his staff at Harmony High School attended the training.
The Upshur County Sheriff’s Office hopes to continue with this type of training, not only at these two districts, but at the other districts in Upshur County, Sheriff Anthony Betterton said.
Deputy Don Gross, with the Upshur County Sheriff’s Office, put the training program together and provided instruction for the courses.
“The Upshur County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank the following administrators for allowing us to conduct the training with their staffs: Harmony ISD Supt. Jed Whitaker and Principal Glenn, Union Grove Supt. Gray, Principals Chris Wayt and Lynn Whitaker and Assistant Principals Craig Attaway and Kelly Moore,” Sheriff Betterton said.
“We would also like to thank the deputies that participated, who all volunteered their days off to come in for this training,” he added.
At the first part of August, the Upshur County Sheriff’s Office organized a meeting which included representatives from the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, the North East Texas Child Advocacy Center and representatives from the Gilmer, Harmony, New Diana, Ore City, Big Sandy and Union Grove school districts to discuss issues and to answer questions to prepare for the new school year.
The meeting was held to better understand each agency’s roll and their areas of responsibility and for these agencies to better understand the policies, procedures and problems each school district has.
The Upshur County Sheriff’s Office’s Narcotic Investigators were also present to discuss with school administrators what kind of drugs law enforcement is seeing in this area, and what to look for, as well as some newer drugs effecting, such as “bath salts” and K-2, a synthetic form of marijuana.
About 30 people were in attendance. The event was hosted by Gilmer ISD Supt. Rick Albritton and Principal Dawn Harris at Bruce Junior High School.
Several in attendance recommended making this a yearly event.