Pop Quiz for School Maintenance: Shots Fired – Who Do You Call?

Posted by on March 24, 2011

Shots are fired in a high school bathroom. The suspects flee.

Who does the maintenance worker and his/her supervisor call? Not the police.

Shots Fired, Suspects Flee; School Staff Delay Police Call

A March 22, 2011, MercuryNews.com article reporting on Shots fired at Berkeley High School, three arrested says the school’s maintenance worker who heard the shots and saw students run called his supervisor instead of the police.  The supervisor then called someone else at the school instead of calling the police.

Fortunately, the third time was charm.  When the supervisor called someone else (not named in the story) at the school, that person called the police.

The end result: A 15-minute delay in calling police.

The suspects, who were later identified by two student witnesses who saw the gun go off in the restroom, were arrested.  At least one shot went through the wall of the bathroom and outside of the portable classroom building, and could have injured or killed someone had a person been outside, police said.

The gun was found about two hours later wrapped in a jacket in a neighborhood street.  Apparently the suspects allegedly fled, ditched the gun, and came back to school.

Later a third student carrying a gun was arrested following an anonymous tip.

What’s More Scary: Kids with Guns or Adults Who Don’t Know to Call Police? 

Three students arrested and two guns confiscated in one day are enough to capture most people’s attention.  But the shocking part of the story to this veteran school safety specialist is that two school employees failed to immediately notify police when shots were fired and suspects fleeing on campus.

What were they thinking? Were they thinking? What type of training have they received?  (All of these would be questions they and their school administrators would likely be asked in a deposition and/or trial if they were sued had someone been injured or killed.)

Security and Crisis Training Needed for School Support Staff

My colleagues and I have stepped up our school security and emergency preparedness training workshops for school support staff in recent years. This incident reinforces the need to continue doing so.

School custodians, maintenance workers, food service staff, bus drivers, secretaries, and other support staff have for too long not been provided training on school security and crisis issues.  They often are not represented on school crisis teams. 

Unfortunately, the Obama Administration eliminated the only dedicated K-12 school emergency planning grant (REMS) program for schools in the FY2012 budget.  Congress then followed up by eliminating the program for FY2011 in a politically expedient move to get to a Continuing Resolution for the 2011 budget. Many school support staff were included in training funded by this grant, and the training was the first ever they had received on these topics. 

Many school administrators have made great strides in recent years to train and include these employee support groups in school emergency preparedness efforts.

But obviously, there is a long way to go.

Ken Trump

Visit School Security Blog at:  http://www.schoolsecurityblog.com

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