On the heels of more shooting tragedies across the United States are conversations about how to better prepare school staffs and teachers for active shooter situations and intruders, in general. Perhaps not all school teams are ready to arm their staffs with weapons for protection on school premises, however a St. Louis metropolitan group of police are getting requests for other types of training.
Fenton Police Precinct Commander Capt. Jeff Bader co-chairs a training committee of the Safe Schools Partnership of St. Louis County, which is a group launched during the 1998-1999 school year to facilitate collaboration between the county police department, area police departments, school districts, and other concerned agencies, with the sole goal of assuring student safety. Rockwood School District is one of about 25 public and private districts who are members of the partnership.
The Safe Schools training subgroup identifies lecture-based, instructional needs for both school officials and police officers. Bader tells Patch the committee typically offers training sessions twice a year, often in the spring and fall.
"The training topics vary, and each session lasts 2 to 3 hours," Bader said.
He said the training is planned around the response they receive from the 97-plus Safe Schools members. "We most recently provided training regarding current drug trends and social media issues."
"We discuss the current issues school leaders face, and the legalities of handling them certain ways," said Bader.
"For example, police conduct investigations under false identities on the Internet, but their discoveries cannot be used for criminal purposes. In our training sessions, we discuss how to help people while avoiding privacy violations."
Bader said intruder preparation likely will be the emphasis of the upcoming training session, with the utmost importance given to outlining best practices while not putting forth absolute solutions that may conflict with individual school district policies.
"We all want to develop a more secure school environment for children, but we don't want to recommend a single set of actions that are contrary to individual district and police policies," he said.
Read previous articles about this initiative:
Rockwood School District Prepares for Crises
Rockwood Issues Letter to Parents on School Shooting
School Officials Reject Idea of Arming Teachers at Safety Meeting
Rockwood Officials Do Not Favor Arming Teaching Staff
Rockwood Security: Is It Enough?
Intruder Disarmament Training Offered to School Districts Around St. Louis
Free 'Active Shooter' Training Available
Bader said dates for the next training session are being balanced around spring breaks, and that the group likely would settle on dates mid-February. He said 120 to 150 participants attend the trainings, which typically are conducted in theaters.
"We go through what school teams should expect police to be doing, in the event bad things happen. We believe they can prepare and react much better, just knowing what to expect from us," said Bader.
He also said school representatives need not be official Safe Schools members. "We've had participants come from as far away Pike and Phelp counties in Illinois."