Just like schools practice fire drills so that students and teachers know what to do in the event of an emergency evacuation, modern times has forced schools to practice what would be unthinkable, a violent person entering a school looking to do harm to students or teachers.
In the wake of tragic events such as Sandy Hook Elementary where a lone gunman killed scores of teachers and first grade students, schools have begun practicing lockdown drills.
In the weeks leading up to spring break, schools across the District were visited by dozens of Ada County Sheriff’s deputies in the halls. Kuna Deputy Mark Hudson, the Student Resource Officer (SRO) for all of the elementary schools in Kuna led drills bringing in other SROs from Kuna Middle School and Kuna High School in addition to deputies from around the county.
This is the second series of drills this year in each of Kuna’s schools and is designed to test and try out methods in such a worst-case scenario.
“This is a low-probability, high consequence event,” said Officer Hudson. The drills are conducted not only so that teachers and students can practice, but to help children develop good life skills. “The earlier we can get kids thinking safety-wise, the better,” said Hudson adding that these shooter events can happen anywhere, in malls and the workplace.
Strategies have changed as to how the police respond to shooter situations. With Columbine, police surrounded the school and waited for the SWAT teams to go in. This, it was determined, resulted in a loss of life. The policy then changed to entering locations with small teams of officers. Now, once an officer arrives on the scene, they enter it to neutralize the threat.
Strategies for teachers and students have changed also. The policy practiced now is to Run, Hide and Fight.
Once a situation begins, whether it is announced on the intercom, gunshots are heard, via teacher texts or emails, the first option is to run. Running away from harm is the first step. If getting kids out of the school is the best option, then teachers should do that.
“I’d rather have to go looking for kids that have run off into a neighborhood than be close to a shooter in the school,” said Hudson.
Hiding is next. Locking and barricading doors and covering windows is essential. With lights off, kids away from the door and being quiet is practiced during the drills.
In the event that an assailant confronts a teacher, they are instructed to fight and defend. While there has been debate over allowing teachers to have a gun in the classroom, it is encouraged by police that teachers have a weapon such as a bat, a golf club or some item to use.
At Silver Trail Elementary a few weeks ago a lockdown drill was held. Upon the announcement of the drill teachers locked down their rooms, turned out the lights and practiced what would happen. Drills are held at all schools because of the variance in layouts, communication technology and entrances. Deputies then went door to door to check how each room did and to clear the school. Some doors were blocked so well the officers couldn’t get in. One teacher, a former collegiate track & field athlete, even brandished her javelin, which the students thought was cool. They got an A+.