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Biometric Gun Safes in Public Schools to Begin This School Year







(Walhalla, SC)--------------------------------------The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office has worked with school district personnel to install biometric gun safes in each of the 18 schools in the School District of Oconee County.


“During the January 2023 meeting of the School Board, the Sheriff’s Office made a presentation to the Board in regards to installing these biometric gun safes in each of the 18 schools in the School District of Oconee County,” says Oconee County Sheriff Mike Crenshaw. “I wanted the Board to be informed on our plans to increase safety measures in each of our schools. Our staff went and picked up the safes from a vendor in Atlanta and over the past few months all of the safes have been securely installed in undisclosed locations in each of the 18 schools.”


According to Sheriff Crenshaw, one of the goals for the installation of the gun safes is to allow the School Resource Officer assigned to each school quicker access to their patrol rifles in order to respond to reports of an active shooter in that particular school. Currently, the patrol rifles are securely stored in the SRO’s patrol vehicles on campus.


“Our active shooter training has focused on eliminating the threat as quickly as possible in the event of an active shooter, even if it involves just a single law enforcement officer,” says Sheriff Crenshaw. “We teach our deputies, even if they are alone, to enter the building where the active shooting is going on and to engage and eliminate that threat. Giving our SRO’s quicker access to their patrol rifles, since they are already inside the buildings on campus, can provide that deputy a better opportunity, and reduce the time needed, to eliminate the threat. Patrol rifles also provide better accuracy, at longer distances, for our SRO’s and other deputies who are assigned them.”


“No law enforcement officer, or agency, can totally guarantee that every life can be saved in the event of an active shooter,” continues Sheriff Crenshaw. “However, the quicker the active shooter can be engaged or eliminated equals more lives saved. This is our main purpose for installing these gun safes in our schools.”


In each of the 18 schools in the School District (three high schools, three middle schools, 10 elementary schools, plus, the Hamilton Career Center and Oconee Academy), the SRO assigned to that school is the only officer who can open the biometric gun safe to that school with their thumbprint.


The gun safes have been securely mounted to the wall or floor in an undisclosed location of each school. Also, the construction of the gun safes, themselves, makes breaking into the safes virtually impossible.


“We are also issuing this release to assure parents, students, teachers, administrators, faculty, staff and employees of each school that from now on you will see an SRO, who assigned to your school, carrying in their patrol rifle each day into the school and out of the school at the end of each day,” says Sheriff Crenshaw. “However, there is no reason for concern as this will be an occurrence going forward with the gun safes now installed.”


Sheriff Crenshaw would also like to thank the Oconee Sheriff’s Foundation for the purchase of the 18 gun safes. The Foundation is a non-profit organization whose funds are supplied through donations and fundraisers. No taxpayer money or appropriations was used to purchase the gun safes.


“I would also like to thank Dr. Michael Thorsland (Superintendent of Education for the School District of Oconee County) and Evie Hughes (Director of Student Services, Safety, and Security for the School District of Oconee County) as well as the School Board for their support of these efforts,” says Sheriff Crenshaw. “Discussions on the purchase and installation of these gun safes started last summer and we are excited to see an additional layer of security for our schools.”


“I am very thankful for a Sheriff's Office that is so proactive in keeping our students safe,” says Dr. Thorsland. “Sheriff Crenshaw and his staff are always willing to collaborate and we value their expertise.”




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