NJCOPS SCHOOL SAFETY ARTICLE FEBRUARY 2013 In America our children are sent to school with the expectation of being safe. The Newtown, Ct. shooting incident was a turning point in the American psyche. The horrible crime committed on December 14, 2012 affected all Americans because it was a senseless act that attacked our most precious commodity…our children. While the incident will be investigated extensively and every detail will be scrutinized we can only realize that this act committed by an evil person has negatively affected so many families. Active shooter events occur quickly and the event is usually over before the police arrive. Law enforcement has had extensive training in response to an active shooter incident since the Columbine Shooting on April 20, 1999. The Newtown, Ct. shooting is a watershed moment not only for law enforcement but also schools, teachers, administrators and student. While the immediate reaction is to send uniformed police officers into every school or hire armed guards that will turn a learning environment into a prison facility. We know that town budget constraints and the lack of police manpower make this option cost prohibitive and not possible to sustain. The school environment must be a welcoming and well designed building that is conducive to a proper learning environment. What can we do? First: Denial is the Enemy! It cannot happen here is NOT a plan. Second: Planning- Schools need to have a plan in place and be able and willing to share the plan with law enforcement. Everyone involved with the plan has to understand the plan will have to adapt depending on circumstances of events. Third: Training- Coordinated and ongoing training between schools and law enforcement is essential. The training can incorporate everything from familiarization to school grounds to training scenarios. Four: Evaluation- Any training provided should be reviewed and evaluated by an independent third party. During an Active Shooter event training and tactics should become second nature. Just like any stressful situation …it will all revert back to training.