For senior Jack Andrews, the old security policy of this school was ineffective. That old plan mandated a lockdown procedure that required teachers to simply close and lock their doors, in the event of an emergency. With the school’s administration implementing a new security policy regarding the violent-intruder protocol response this year, Andrew’s opinion may change.
“I do agree that (the) lock down procedure wasn’t very effective. It didn’t seem very effective. We never had to really use it,” Andrews said.
According to Sergeant Phillip Hobson, the school resource officer here, the changes to the policy allow students and teachers to make decisions based on what situation they are in.
“(The policy) changes what staff and students are allowed to do before the police get there. Specifically speaking if there’s a person in an area committing acts of violence, we want everyone to know that they are empowered with choices. They are allowed to make choices based on what is happening to them as opposed to me saying ‘lockdown, stay where you are’,” Hobson said.
According to Assistant Principal Amy Skeens-Benton, the school’s new security policy is all about survivability. Through the PA system, administrators will ensure that students and teachers know why the lockdown is occurring, who it affects and any other information. Once they had this information, students and teachers can make decisions. If a violent intruder storms into a classroom, students now have permission to defend themselves or flee rather than ducking in the corner.
“Unfortunately, most people focus in on only (the attacking intruders) portion,” Skeens-Benton said. “The theme, or the mind-set, is that you have options.”
Skeens-Benton said sitting in a locked classroom when a violent intruder is on the loose is the worst possible decision, but this was the accepted and appropriate response for American schools after the Columbine massacre, a 1999 incident in which two young men killed 13 people at Columbine High School. Skeens-Benton said times have changed, and police will no longer wait around the perimeter.
“Maybe its two minutes or maybe its five minutes, in that time period a lot of things can happen in that time to keep you safe, Hobson said. “What we’re addressing is what you do before (police) get there to help yourself.”
Hobson and Skeens-Benton attended the 2011 National Association of School Resource Officers Conference, which gave them the idea to switch the school’s security policy to be more in compliance with state and federal security guidelines.
Skeens-Benton said she believes that the changes to the security policies will be a good way to boost safety for students.
“Our number one job is to keep all of you safe,” Skeens-Benton said. “Hopefully this mind-set change will make a big difference. Just like a plane is not going to be taken over with a box cutter anymore, a school is not going to be taken over by a lone violent person.”