Although the administrators at the Sumter (S.C.) Police Department fervently hope they never have to deal with an active shooter situation, they want to have Incident Command System (ICS) plans in place for every one of the county’s 30-plus schools in case such an event does occur. Emergency Management Coordinator Gary Fowler has found that the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) School Critical Incident Planning — Generator (SCIP-G) is the right tool to help with that process.
"We wanted to establish an ICS plan that will work so that we don’t have to come up with one on the fly in the event of an emergency," Fowler says. "We know what specific people need to be in specific positions. We know exactly what we need to do. I’ve been working a lot with SCIP-G so that we don’t have to reinvent the wheel. I’m able to use it to look at each school at the incident command level and determine what we need to do to coordinate our response with school administrators."
"My chief asked me to work up our intended response protocol in dealing with an active shooter," Fowler says. " We’re looking at the immediate armed response, and we train on different aspects of that, such as whether it’s a hostage situation or whether there is an active shooter inside a school. And we could extrapolate from this training as needed to apply to a workplace violence incident at a business."
Sumter PD plans to involve the other law enforcement agencies in the county—the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office, South Carolina Law Enforcement Division and Department of Natural Resources Police—in the planning and training. In addition to using SCIP-G, Sumter PD is in the process of conducting site surveys and taking pictures of every school. Computerized floor plans will designate command posts and which officers will be stationed where.
Fowler says he is also sending letters to every school, asking administrators to designate a point of contact who will work with law enforcement on developing the plan and then be accessible in the event of an emergency. The agency is reaching out to the county’s public and private schools, which range from small rural schools to larger ones in the more urban Sumter city area (population 42,000 of the county’s 108,000 residents), and include a University of South Carolina branch campus.
"We’ve been working on this for several years. We’ve had training in the past, and every year we go through refresher courses," Fowler says. "However, this is the first time we are undertaking an effort to put everything on record so that the appropriate people know exactly what their specific duties are."
In addition to using SCIP-G, Fowlers says he is applying information from courses taken at the National Emergency Response and Rescue Training Center (NERRTC) at Texas A&M University in College Station.
"Their unified command course is one of the best. As a resource, I highly recommend it."