I have a passion for law enforcement, which comes from a deep desire to help people, protect them, and to serve them in time of need. That desire is magnified when it comes to the most vulnerable among us, the elderly, those struggling with mental health issues, and of course, children. I will absolutely stand with parents for school security. As Sheriff, I would consider it part of my job to fight for change in any area that compromises the safety of the members of our community.
The first step in improving security in our schools is to develop that inter-agency collaboration that I have been advocating for. This is vitally important because Laramie County School District 1 includes schools that are located both in the city and the county. Because all local law enforcement agencies, AMR and Fire Protection will respond to a school emergency of importance, interagency collaboration and training for school emergencies are a must. We have to ensure that our joint response is consistent and effective, not chaotic or haphazard.
Ultimately, it is the duty of the School District and Superintendent to develop and prioritize their security plan. The Sheriff’s role is to make sure that the deputy response to any threat of violence is well thought out, planned and practiced. Training and practice are key! I cannot say it enough! It’s not sufficient for the SWAT team to train for an active shooter in the building. ALL First Responders should participate in on-site training with faculty and staff to support the SWAT team in their efforts. Our School Resource Officers should receive STATE MANDATED training, as they consistently work with staff at each individual school to keep them sharp on security issues. And, while reserve deputies could be an asset for supplementary protection with the right training, resources, and support, we cannot rush to have an appointed posse of citizens no matter how well intentioned.
With my Master’s Degree in Business and Organizational Security Management, I am uniquely qualified to assist in the area of school security. I have experience in designing school security plans, and would be happy to sit down to examine the district’s or an individual school’s current plans to assist them in looking for ways to enhance and improve them. I am also willing to make myself available to conduct a threat assessment of each school in the county to identify vulnerabilities, and to make recommendations. I have a developed course of action for school faculty and staff that enables them to respond efficiently to threats in that time period before deputies arrive on scene that I would be happy to offer. In the past when I have worked with schools, I not only look for a school response that includes a well thought out lock-down but for a structured and regularly practiced building evacuation plan, and a reunification process to dismiss students into their parents’ care safely and efficiently. Having those last two in place clears the scene for law enforcement to do their job on site.
Ultimately, voters should educate themselves on any candidates running for School Superintendent, and ask them pointed questions regarding their goals for safety and security. This is where active parent involvement should take place. Ask them how they plan to make school security a priority. Ask about their training or how they have educated themselves regarding school security issues to make sure the current plan is sufficient. Ask them if they provided input in the development of any security plan. Ask if they know how recently the plan has been re-evaluated or adapted to reflect building changes or best practices. Ask how often they would practice the plan – including an evacuation. Know that while detailed intricacies of each existing individual school security protocol may not be shared with parents, at the very least you should have explicit instructions of how you will be notified in the event of a significant incident, and where to respond for reunification with your children.
Our community should demand that the School Superintendent lead from the front for security and to prioritize budget allocations to pay for reasonable and practical changes. If school funding were insufficient in this area, a robust fundraiser within the community could bridge that financial gap! I will gladly do my part to stand with parents to prioritize school security. The “that would never happen here” attitude has to go. It’s time to train and be prepared as if our children’s lives depended on it.
If you have any follow-up questions on this issue, please message me privately and I will be happy to address them!
Posted on 30 May 2022, 17:10 - Category: Blog Entry