By Alex Tekip
Clinton chronicle staff reporter
CLINTON COUNTY—If a team is as strong as its weakest link, don’t expect the Clinton County Sheriff’s Department to go down easy.
The sheriff’s department, along with other police forces in Clinton County, spent the week of April 15-19 completing their annual core training at Dewitt High School.
Clinton County Deputy Sharon Worthington said core training is regular, required practice for the Clinton County Sheriff’s Department and other law enforcement agencies in Clinton County, such as the police departments of Dewitt, St. Johns, and surrounding cities.
Worthington said the training takes place in a local high school every year, with the main focus being police force response to situations that would pose dangerous to school safety.
“Core training is primarily about how to deal with school safety [issues],” she said.
Worthington said that the police forces that participate in the training gain and refresh their knowledge of how to handle serious threats such as a hostage situation or school shooting.
Worthington said other situations in a school setting that would require involvement of law officials, such as a student getting caught with drugs, are considered important as well.
However, she said drug-related issues have a lower level of priority in the core training compared to hostage or shooting situations, as they are more of a routine occurrence.
Worthington said the situations that officers face in core training are made to resemble conditions they would face if the situation were to actually occur.
“There are smoke machines and alarms,” she said. “And volunteers act as victims and shooters.”
Worthington said in addition to the volunteers, there are others who are not involved in law enforcement who attend core training: school district officials, namely superintendents, observe as well.
Worthington said the school system’s interest has been a benefit to the core training program and its results.
However, she said the greatest benefit of core training is learning to work as a team with individuals whom she may not be entirely familiar with.
Worthington said one of the biggest benefits of core training is that it allows the sheriff’s department and its associated agencies to discover what works and what doesn’t by emulating real situations-something she said believes to be vital to the success of all branches of law enforcement in Clinton County.
“Officers of all agencies come and work a ‘real scenario’ that they aren’t normally working,” she said. “They become familiar with schools they are unfamiliar with, officers work together that don’t normally [do.]”