District 51 plans school safety training

Administration, law enforcement to coordinate tactics

Local law enforcement and School District 51 personnel hope to teach each other how they would react during a school shooting, starting by the end of the month.

The Mesa County Sheriff’s Department already offers active shooter training on an occasional basis to schools outside city limits, according to sheriff’s department spokeswoman Heather Benjamin.

Past training has involved deputies demonstrating school shooting scenarios for school employees and showing them how law enforcement would enter and search the building during or following a shooting incident.

City and county SWAT teams have been discussing active shooter practices and coordinated training in schools since an active shooter training last year at Central High School, according to Grand Junction Police Department spokeswoman Kate Porras.

She said the police department’s school resource officers also discuss with individual schools in their coverage area what would happen during a shooting.

The sheriff’s and police departments plan to lead training similar to the one offered at Central at all District 51 schools starting by Feb. 1. Although most of the training curriculum is in place, Benjamin said local law enforcement agencies want to first make sure the training is uniform and that all agencies plan to react the same way in a shooting situation.

District 51 Safety and Transportation Director Tim Leon said the training will offer district employees a chance to show law enforcement how they would react during a shooting as well by demonstrating school lockdown and emergency procedures for officers and deputies.

“Most (law enforcement) haven’t seen a lockdown. And most of our staff hasn’t seen how law enforcement is supposed to enter” in a shooting situation, Leon said.

Leon said the training will likely take place in tiers, with administration gathering for training first and deciding how best to train other school staff, whether that means doing the training one school at a time, one area at a time, or another scenario.

In the meantime, Leon said the district is focused on discussing possible safety changes and making sure all employees are following current safety procedures. That includes making sure all exterior doors that are supposed to be locked at a school are locked, all employees are wearing name-identifying badges and that all visitors sign in at a school’s front desk and wear a name tag or a “visitor” badge.

District 51 Superintendent Steve Schultz said at a School Board meeting Tuesday night he wants to gather a small group to study ways the district could add to its safety policy and discuss possibilities that have been suggested, including permitting teachers to carry guns and allowing armed volunteers into schools.

Schultz did not say who exactly would be invited to join the committee, but suggested it should not be limited to staff.


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