BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Since the Newtown school shooting in 2012, 74 schools across the country have faced similar tragedies, and Tuesday's deadly shooting spree in Oregon was just one of those. A student opened fire at his own school killing a classmate and wounding a teacher before turning the gun on himself.
School shootings have skyrocketed in recent years, and this has local law enforcers stepping up their response procedures, should such a horrific event happen here. Dozens of police cars will be surrounding Biloxi Junior High this week, but be warned, it isn't an emergency.
Campus police officers from across the state are here on the Coast training on what to do if the worst should happen. This year, the conference has taken over Biloxi Junior High.
For the past 14 years, the statewide Safe and Drug Free Conference for School Resource Officers has had one goal; to keep kids safe and officers on their toes.
It's a workshop designed to keep officers ready for anything that could come their way. State Safety Director Robert Laird said although the training is extensive, the goal is simple.
"That is to protect the most precious resource we have, and that is our children," said Laird.
Laird worked closely with Biloxi Schools Chief of Police Paul Cannette to put the event together. Cannette said all 152 school districts in the state go through the same procedures to make sure crisis plans are in place.
"We have those approved every year. They're reviewed annually, and we practice drills to make sure that we're on top of that," said Cannette.
This conference is happening on the heels of the deadly Oregon school shooting. Cannette said unfortunately, that shooting is just one of many that have happened in the last two years.
"Since the Newtown shooting, there have been 74 other school shootings," said Cannette.
It's tragedies like the one in Oregon that make it even more imperative to have sessions like this. The State Department of Education requires that resource officers get at least 24 hours of training, and that's what this week guarantees.
Cannette said that these four days aren't just about training the officers. It's also about having a plan that includes administrators, teachers and the public.
"We work with everyone to ensure that everybody knows what to do," said Cannette.
If a school emergency ever to happen, Cannette says they would be ready.
"That's the way we train. We train for the worst and hope for the best," said Cannette.
270 officers from across the state will be at the school during the four day conference. The officers vote on the location every year, and out of the past eight years, six have been held here on the Coast.