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Active Shooter Seminar offered to teachers
Preparing for the worst
Sometimes bad people do bad things. Those simple words, said Porterville Police Department Officer Mariko Williams, can be used to explain to young students why one must always be ready and prepared for the unforeseen worst — an active shooter on a school campus.
It was all part of an all-schools training program by the Porterville Police Department.
Starting with Belleview Elementary on Jan. 14, PPD has been offering the training to teachers, administrators and all staff at each school. On Monday, Williams presented a film and lecture at John J. Doyle Elementary in East Porterville.
“Survival depends on a plan. It doesn’t have to be complicated,” Williams said.
The program began with a video that stressed three key words to always remember in such situations — run, hide, fight.
Those attending learned about escaping and evacuating a classroom, as well as safety tips on what they can do in a classroom or office setting should the situation arise. The tips were as simple as reporting suspicious persons and vehicles, being quiet, and silencing all cell phones, to blocking doorways and improvising weapons.
Williams also stressed school security considerations, including knowing the school’s lockdown and evacuation plans, participating in drills and requiring first-aid training. She also touched on the importance of the availability of master keys, campus maps, building plans, a land line and telephone list.
She talked as she went through a time line of past school-shooting incidents.
“Since 1996, there have been more than 60 active shooting incidents at schools or colleges where lives have been lost,” she said.
That does not take into account the hundreds of foiled plots that were stopped because someone warned another person about it and that person told a parent, teacher or administrator who called police.
“On the Homeland Security website, there are daily plots foiled. This isn’t just talk. These are real plots that foiled. We’re talking weapons, plans and evidence on planned attacks,” Williams said.
Her talk covered the definition of ‘Active Shooter/Killer’ as she talked about the mental makeup of an active shooter, stating they know they will gain immediate and long-lasting media coverage. She also described the difference between various types of shooters, including: single student shooter, low multiple student shooter, high multitude student shooter, young adult student shooter and an adult shooter/hostage taker. Along the way, she offered examples, including incidents at Columbine, Alaska, Kansas, VA Tech, Colorado and one at an Amish school in Pennsylvania.
When it comes to local schools, she talked about the code names alerting staff, and things teachers can do to secure the immediate area, including turning off lights, and locking and blocking doors.
“Shooters know all they have is about three minutes,” she said. “If they can’t get into your classroom, they will move on to the next room.”
She also stressed the importance of adults giving simple commands to children, including ‘Be quiet’ or ‘Go with her.’
“Students will look to the adult for guidance,” she said.
Williams also stressed the importance of noticing details, what a person is wearing, race, gender, colors, the number of shooters and the number of people in a location, if the person is recognized and whether any explosions were heard.
She talked about the recent Taft High School shooting and what Kern County Sheriff recommended.
“I’m not going to tell you specifically what to do because every campus is different,” she said and explained a few things that can be done at some of the sites. “Remember. We will come, and in great numbers. But you have the first five minutes.”
She continued with police protocol, and with the reasoning and importance of searching everyone, including kindergartners belongings, debriefing, interviews, and treating the area as a crime scene — something parents rushing to the scene to pick up children can not understand.
Following the presentation, teachers and other staff voiced specific school concerns.
Teachers also praised the presentation.
“This was very insightful. The talk about what to do has given me ideas for my classroom,” said Maribel Madrigal, special education teacher.
Sandra Pedroza agreed, saying it is important to be informed on all options.
She was not the only one, PUSD Superintendent John Snavely was also happy with the presentation, which will continue through the end of February until all of the district’s employees from all schools and programs have heard it.
“I am very impressed with the quality and content of the presentation by Officer Mariko Williams of the Porterville Police Department,” Snavely said. “The information she provides gives our teachers and staff a better understanding of potential situations and provides them information that they can take back to their individual classrooms or work sites to evaluate what can and should be done if a situation arises. When confronted with potential danger, all of us have one goal in mind, to protect the children we serve — no matter what.”
Contact Esther Avila at 784-5000, Ext. 1045. Follow her on Twitter @Avila_recorder.