FORSYTH, Ga. — It was four days of hands-on training, theoretical discussions, and critical-thinking exercises at the Georgia Public Safety Training Center in Forsyth. Law enforcement, school resource officers, and school safety directors across Georgia came to learn about how to protect Georgians.
Max Schachter was the guest speaker at the training center. He lost his son, Alex, in the 2018 Parkland, Florida shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Schachter misses his son every day.
"He had an infectious smile. Alex was a happy kid. He loved movies, he loved video games, Alex was in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Eagle Regiment Marching Band," Schachter said.
Schachter is the founder and executive director of Safe Schools for Alex. The organization provides schools, law enforcement, and parents with resources on how to protect students in the classroom.
He's also working to create a Mass Casualty Rapid Response Team that will help the next community involved in an active shooter situation. The goal is to make the recovery process easier for people who express a tragedy.
Chris Wigginton is the executive director of the training center. He says the expo was needed because law enforcement needs to be prepared no matter where they are.
"You might be buying groceries, be at your place of business or at school, and have a plan in place. Know what your plan is and how you're going to react in that situation," Wigginton said.
The expo included different tactical training, first responder entry methods, and school bus safety. Danielle Rosa is the manager of the school resource officer program. She says the expo also involved school educators and resource officers.
"In sharing the expertise and the information with that will help make those school safety plans more robust when it comes to the reaction to an active shooter, on the back end of being able to recognize the signs of something that may be going on with that student before they become the active shooter," Rosa said.
Wigginton told 13WMAZ, when the expo started, 129 law enforcement agencies came to learn how to protect fellow Georgians. He says the hands-on expo brings together people from many different fields.
"We have firefighters here, we have school safety directors, we have a variety of people that would be involved in an active shooter situation no matter where it might take place."
Schachter has created an initiative called the School Safety Dashboard that is used to show incidents of sexual abuse, bullying, and school suspensions. It recognizes the stakeholders who are involved in those situations.