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Sunday, May 1, 2016

CCSD uses 'team effort' with school corporation

Sunday, February 3, 2008

When schools need assistance in emergency situations, they call on the Clay County Sheriff's Department for help.

With the departure of former Chief Deputy Doug Barr, the Sheriff's Department no longer has a main contact for the schools to reach.

"It has become a team effort," Clay County Sheriff Mike Heaton said. "Our shift times have also changed but we try our best to get someone out to the schools everyday."

Heaton said while there are some days the department is unable to make it to the schools, but when they are, it is usually not for anything major.

"The majority of the time we are not looking for anything in particular," he said. "They are just random walkthroughs to make sure the day is going smoothly."

The department also has a regular presence at football and basketball games to ensure the safety of the student-athletes and the fans.

The department has helped the faculty keep up to date with emergency management procedures so the staff can handle extraordinary situations they may encounter.

"The faculty has gone through an Active Shooter workshop with us," Heaton said. "It is imperative for everyone involved with the schools to know how to quickly and safely handle even the most hectic of situations."

While the Sheriff's Department has to follow strict procedures when it comes to providing assistance, the schools have the advantage of being able to search lockers and talk to the kids without the parents being present, particularly when it comes to fighting in the school.

"It all depends on the situation," Heaton said. "Usually the schools are able to handle it on their own without feeling the need to call us, but if someone is wanting to file charges for battery following a fight, that's where we come into play."

A lot has happened at the schools in recent months, including a drive-by shooting on Van Buren High School and numerous bomb threats at North Clay Middle School and Northview High School.

"All of these situations are serious and we check them out, making sure the children are safe before we consider evacuations or anything like that," Heaton said. "There is always a possibility, with the bomb threats, that it is viable and we proceed with caution and treat it as so, while following the school's guidelines and procedures."

Heaton said the recent threats, which have been written on walls, are just as serious as any other threat, but the most damage done by them has been hurting the students' education.

"It drains our resources, but most importantly, it disrupts the education of the students in Clay County," he said. "The teachers and students all work hard and deserve the best education they can get and maximize their time in the classroom."

Although the department has no set officer to go to the schools, the department continuously trains to minimize the time it take to respond to a call.

"Everyone works together to immediately get to whichever school is calling for our assistance," Heaton said. "It is important we do our job well, but the most important thing is to maintain the safety and well-being of the students throughout the county."

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