Building Operating Management

School Districts Focus On Resource Officers, Improved Response Time Instead Of Arming Employees

In other areas, schools are focusing more on school resource officers or other ways of improving police response time or being more prepared for an active shooter situation. In Crockett County, Tenn., the school district focused on structural changes, says Philip Pratt, assistant director of schools. Among the changes were building interior walls with doors that could cordon off hallways as needed. The school system also has an unarmed security guard who spends most of his time at the middle school/high school complex, an acknowledgement that when you can't have somebody everywhere at all times, the best choice is to put a security person in position to respond to how most incidents have traditionally happened, which is from an internal threat in the higher grades.

Pratt says that the district looked into the idea of having staff carrying guns and, with several staff members with extensive military experience, would have a knowledgeable, experienced pool of candidates to choose from. But ultimately, the decision was made that the school district wasn't ready to take that step just yet.

"They will do it if we ask them to, but at the same time, our schools should be a place where there's security and the kids feel safe," Pratt says. "It's just not a situation where you want people with guns strapped on their hips walking around the building. I just don't think that creates the climate we're looking for in a school system."

In Ottawa, Ill., the school district has worked on improving its communications with the local police department, says Scott Clinch, director of operations and maintenance. The district does have a resource officer, who is on-site during all school hours. The resource officer has been with the school since before Sandy Hook, but one change the district made in the aftermath was setting up a channel on its radios that would allow for direct contact with the local police department. Ten people on staff have the ability to access the channel.

The school system has made other changes as well, including setting up access for the police department to view the schools' security cameras in an emergency so as to get a better idea of what they would be facing in an emergency situation.

As in Crockett County, the Ottawa district's feeling is that a resource officer and local law enforcement are the keys to an effective response, Clinch says.

"We've always thought that's the reason we have a police officer on site during school hours," he says.

And, says Clinch, it can be hard to ask teachers to be armed security officers as well.

"My personal opinion is the faculty has enough on their plate," he says. "It's asking them to change hats — 'I'm a teacher for an hour, then within these five seconds I've got to become a police officer.'"

Guns in schools graphic

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School Districts Focus On Resource Officers, Improved Response Time Instead Of Arming Employees

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  posted on 11/5/2013   Article Use Policy

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