Local Schools Talk Safety Procedures Amid CT Tragedy
KENNEWICK, Wash. -- As word of Friday's unspeakable tragedy that left 27 dead, including 20 children spread, local schools took several calls from upset parents wanting to know what is done locally in case of an emergency.
While schools within the Tri-Cities community never had to deal with anything on this level, they are very proactive in their efforts to keep staff and students safe, and it's something they constantly work on.
"These kinds of situations are very very difficult," said Lorraine Cooper the spokesperson for Kennewick School District. Cooper said she's been talking to staff and parents all day. She says that times like this are also a good time to remind families about what our local schools do for safety.
"This is exactly the reason we do the drills that we do. We take security very very seriously," said Cooper who outlined their basic plans, including monthly emergency lock down drills done at every school and yearly "table top" drills of mock emergency scenarios coordinated with the Kennewick Police Department.
"Our officers, when they're doing active shooter training, they have utilized school district facilities during the time the school is closed to be able to get familiar with the lay out of schools. They tour schools. We have maps for the schools, so we do work closely with the school district on all sorts of things. Particularly the type of situations where there is a threat of violence," said Mike Blatman with Kennewick Police.
Cooper says, not only do they do drills but they review their procedures often. "We practice the procedures so that we're learning all the time and we're getting better all the time, so that we're prepared and ready to act quickly," she said.
Other security measures at Kennewick include School Resource officers at each high school, security staff at middle schools, and they are in the process of installing remote cameras at all their schools. Cooper said their new schools are designed in a way that intruders can't just come in and doors are locked.
Richland Schools sent a flyer home with their elementary school children. One touching on their security measures and another on helping parents talk to young children about tragedies. Some steps they outlined include: Security guards or school resource officers at each of the secondary schools, all exterior doors at elementary schools are locked all day except the front door, each elementary and secondary school has a safety team, staff identification badges are worn by all staff at all RSD schools, principals take rumors of possible violence/threats seriously and work quickly to investigate. The District has an Emergency Response Plan in place. It's a practical plan that lines out how we respond to various kinds of emergencies and disasters. All Richland schools practice evacuation and lock-down drills on a regular basis so students and staff are prepared when a real emergency happens.