Aiken County security, emergency chief discusses goals for new school year

Published: Aug. 2, 2022 at 6:29 PM EDT
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AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - We’re following up with Aiken County schools to find out more about their student safety plans this year.

We’ve heard concerns from parents about not having a school resource officer in every school. The district says they are working on getting funding to do that.

Meanwhile, for the first time ever, they hired a new director of security and emergency management.

What results are school leaders looking for out of this new position?

We spoke with the new director, and she says that safety and security are top of mind for every person in the district.

They say there’s a safety plan in place, but school leaders hope this new director can help tighten loose ends within every school.

School safety is the top priority for parents and students returning to class.

“I’ve had a lot of experience working with the school district,” said Director of Security and Emergency Management Vicky Gaskins.

That experience is 24 years with the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office, a school resource officer, juvenile investigator, and working with the school district on threat assessment and safety drills.

“I participated on our SWAT team, had active shooter training, responding to incidents at a school,” she said.

Her role is to put safety measures in place for the district, create safety drills, and draw up plans for how the district responds to any emergency.

“I’m currently meeting with all of the principals and doing site assessments and looking at the concerns they have so I can evaluate and make recommendations to address those concerns,” said Gaskins.

An open line of communication is essential between law enforcement, parents, and schools.

“The security of our students... the burden is on everyone. We have to get the message out that if you have a concern of any type of threat to report it,” she said.

Focusing on reassuring parents of safety plans is her main goal in her first year.

“They are safety and security-focused, and that was reassuring coming in as a parent and coming into this role,” she said.

Having school resource officers in every school has come into question in Aiken County.

Gaskins tells us the district is actively applying for funding from the state so they can get an officer in every school, but there is no timeline for that to happen.

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