Many school crisis plans are on paper and sitting on shelves. Some schools and police conduct tabletop exercises to take plans closer to reality. Last Friday, schools and police in the Greater Cleveland area put their plans to the full blown test in simultaneous active shooter drills in multiple suburban communities.
The Brecksville-Broadview Heights School District, Brecksville and Broadview Heights Police and Fire Departments, area hospital officials and other partners joined forces to conduct a school active shooter training during a school in-service day when most students were not in attendance. Drama students added realistic dynamics, bloody make-up and crying included, to give the drill the most realistic flavor possible.
The drill is one in an ongoing series of drills conducted in the school district in recent school years. A federal grant helped fund the drill, a school security assessment and security equipment needs for the schools.
A neighboring school district simultaneously conducted a similar drill to help test how responders managed multiple unfolding high-profile incidents and how it impacted mutual aid agreements, area hospital capabilities and related preparedness and response measures.
The Department of Justice grant obtained by the police to conduct these school security enhancements is one of the few, if not the only, remaining federal grants dedicated for school security and emergency preparedness. Sadly, even after a recent school shooting in Chardon, Ohio, sent shockwaves across the nation, our state and federal legislators are still tone deaf to the need to restore funding cut for school safety, security, prevention and preparedness.
At a time when school safety has fallen to the back burner in many school communities, and school security funding has all but disappeared, it is refreshing to see school and police leaders forge ahead with school emergency planning. It is a good sign of school safety leadership.
Are your school and public safety officials leading with action, not just rhetoric, on school safety and emergency preparedness initiatives — even when money is tight and time is limited?
[Disclosure: The Brecksville-Broadview Heights school district is one of our clients. Our firm was not, however, involved with the planning, execution, evaluation or other functions of this exercise.]
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