Need for School Resource Officers Grows After School Shootings

Amid school shootings and other acts of violence, many school districts are tightening their laws and increasing the number of school resource officers (SRO) on campus. SROs offer more than just armed guards within school walls – they are trained to know the school building, students and faculty well. In an active shooter situation, SROs are not only the first to respond in many cases, but are also trained to react to those specific situations.

After an event like Sandy Hook, SRO training increased dramatically. Mo Canady, executive director of National Association of School Resource Officers, said, “After Sandy Hook occurred, our phones rang off the hook and as a matter of fact, our training doubled the next year.” She added, “What we train them to do is not sit or stand and wait for help but to address the incident immediately, find the shooter and end the situation.”

Still, many school district budgets only account for one SRO per school. In most cases, SRO programs have proven to be a good investment, especially with the increase in after school activities and programs where SROs can interact with students on a personal level. An increase in SROs would provide more opportunities for prevention of incidents in the schools, instead of only reacting after something happens.

Dan Cole Joins SafeDefend as National Account Manager

Dan Cole has joined SafeDefend as national account manager after a 30 year career with Lifetouch. Dan grew up in Eureka, Kan., a rural community. Several years ago, Dan was caught up in an intruder scenario while on assignment at a Kansas High School. He saw first-hand the terror of students who had no method of protection and realized that he wanted to work at providing a better way for our students and teachers to protect themselves in similar situations. Dan is now committed to school safety and providing the best advanced technology possible to mitigate potential risks.

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Jeff Green, CEO of SafeDefend, is excited to have Dan aboard. “Dan is a leader with an impressive background. Furthermore, Dan truly cares for the cause, and will work tirelessly to ensure that our community remains safe from emergency threats.”

Schools Tackle Unique Challenges in Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Recovery

A Homeland Security Emergency Management Advisory Council has come up with an action plan that calls for more uniformity in emergency preparedness and disaster situations, such as those involving an active shooter. The plan includes everything from severe weather preparedness to school shootings and goes one step further to also detail the management of parents that show up to school during a crisis.

Steven Skalka, school district superintendent, agreed with the plan, noting, “It’s a great opportunity for us to review our own plans and to work in conjunction with the county to achieve greater consistency.”

The plan covers a way for first responders to enter schools in disaster situations without damaging the buildings in the process and a uniform numbering of school buildings for greater clarity in school identification. Garth Kriewall, communications office supervisor, agreed, adding, “The numbering system is absolutely a security improvement. Day in and day out, though, it will also be useful to anyone who visits our schools.”

The biggest priority of the plan is making sure all district schools are on the same page as much as possible, even though each district faces different threats and unique hazards.

This type of action plan reflects a greater trend among school districts across the country in an attempt to keep our children safe. Absolutely, securing the exterior of our school buildings is an essential first step in ensuring uniform safety. In addition, Jeff Green, CEO of SafeDefend, advocates for a consistent safety plan across not only all schools in the state, but with members of law enforcement, EMS, parents, students and school administration.

How Social Media Has Impacted Active School Shootings

Recently, a young man threatened to carry out a shooting at his school using “Burn Book”, a social media application that lets users anonymously report their thoughts. The student was quickly identified and charged with making a terrorist threat. After the arrest, the school implemented a number of procedures, including increased police presence, mandatory bag searches and metal detectors to ensure the environment was safe.

Events like this are all too common in our schools. Even though many of these scenarios go unreported due to low severity and quick resolution, these types of situations can quickly get out of hand – turning a seemingly simple event into an emergency scenario. The important takeaway from these situations is to learn how school administrators, parents and other students can learn and improve the future safety of our schools.

Students are using social media in a way that their parents and teachers cannot begin to comprehend. Many students view social media as an unlimited and anonymous platform for their expression, both good or bad. But social media can also be used as a force of good at school. Police, school administration, teachers, parents and students can use social media to identify criminals, gather evidence, and prevent crimes.

According to an article by SciTechConnect, “a 2012 LexisNexis survey found that 80 percent of police officers that used social media to investigate crimes were self-taught. The same survey found that social media evidence utilized to get search warrants stood up to challenges in 87 percent of the time.”

If adult stakeholders in education do not learn to utilize social media to their advantage, they run the risk of falling dangerously behind in understanding today’s youth. Jeff Green, CEO of SafeDefend, endorses using a holistic approach to school safety, citing that “understanding technology is a key component to keeping our children safe.”