SWAT school Collage SMALLAs part of the June initiative #KidsFirst, the Benton Police Department’s SWAT team recently took a proactive approach to keeping children safe at school buildings year-round. Along with School Resource Officers, SWAT team members toured school facilities in Benton with floor plan maps, measurement devices, and a lot of discussions with each other.

“The SWAT team is going to every school to conduct threat assessments at the school, such as looking at all the ingress, egress; how do they get into the school and how do they get out,” Chief Kirk Lane said. “They learn everything they need to know in the event a threat was at a school, so they can effectively respond.”

Numerous officers across the nation, including BNPD officers, routinely participate in an Active Shooter training program if there is a threat at any large facility. What SWAT team members conducted this week is the prep work should an active shooter situation ever arise, such as checking how each door in the school facility opens and closes (magnetized or push lock, etc.); their locations and how best to communicate between law enforcement and school official’s proper response protocols.

“We more or less checked the layouts of each facility,” Lt. Eric Haworth said. “Especially with some schools having new construction, we want make sure the floor maps are up-to-date. We made a threat assessment to enhance our ability to react to a situation.”

SWAT team members walked each hallway measuring distances, looked inside various classrooms, offices and classrooms, and took notes and measurements of the school perimeter. They also communicated with the School Resource Officers and school staff about emergency plans, and operational procedures.

“This is one of those proactive approaches that we hope we never have to use, but we’re ready if needed,” Lane said. “We’re making assessments and taking notes so that If there’s ever a threat at a school, we can react properly.”

The BNPD #KidsFirst initiative is aimed at growing relationships and forming bonds with youth in the city, as well as continuing to promote child safety education in the public. The #KidsFirst Initiative will be a community oriented policing program geared toward positive policing actions and activities with children in the community.