By Gary Lloyd
Columbine started it all.
The April 20, 1999, Columbine (Colo.) High School massacre in which 12 students and one teacher were killed by two students spurred changes in school and law enforcement protocol
. Procedure before Columbine was to wait on SWAT teams to arrive and enter the school. Since then, school systems across the country have implemented lockdown policies.
The Jefferson County School District and its schools have their own lockdown policies. At every school in the district, if an active shooter situation occurs, two armed deputies are immediately sent to intervene.
“We aren’t going to wait,” said Sgt. James Burns, who leads the School Resource Officer Division of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.
Jefferson County teachers and administrators today participated in training and an active shooter simulation at the Jefferson County Counseling Learning Center in Birmingham.
“We pride ourselves on protecting our schools,” said Burns, noting that 75 percent of Jefferson County’s 56 schools employ school resource officers.
Here’s how it unfolded: Groups of teachers and administrators started in the cafeteria in Burkett Preschool on JCCLC’s campus, wearing heavy black jackets. The goal was to get their students out of the cafeteria, into a classroom, lock the doors, stay away from doors and windows, and cut off the lights.
Alanna Shankles, a special education teacher at JCCLC, previously taught special education and English at Clay-Chalkville High School. Her reaction immediately after participating in the simulated active school shooting? “Wow.”
“My heart was going 9,000 beats per minute,” Shankles said.
Clay Elementary School Principal Sharon Gallant attended today’s training and also participated last year.
“The awareness that is offered to administrators and school resource officers is invaluable,” Gallant said.
See the full story in the Jan. 10 issue of The Trussville Tribune.
Follow Gary Lloyd on Twitter @GaryALloyd.