After Florida Shooting, Area Schools Double Check Security

By: 
Joyce Coates
Enterprise Staff
Words seem hollow and inadequate in response to yet another mass school shooting perpetrated on Valentine’s Day at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.  Nineteen-year old Nikolas Cruz was arrested for the premeditated murder of seventeen victims, fourteen young people and three teacher-coaches. Twenty-one more were wounded with the semi-automatic rifle he had legally purchased a year ago. 
Counting exactly how many mass school shootings have occurred since the Columbine massacre that left 17 dead in 1999 depends on the definition used by the source. Commonly, the term “mass” applies to a shooting when four or more are killed, excluding the shooter. Washington Post online February 15 applied that criterion to 11 mass shootings since Columbine:
•April 20, 1999 – Columbine High School
•March 21, 2005 – Red Lake Indian Reservation
•October 2, 2006 – West Nickel Mines Amish School
•April 16, 2007 – Virginia Tech
•February 14, 2008 – Northern Illinois University
•April 4, 2012 – Oikos University
•December 12, 2012 – Sandy Hook Elementary School
•June 7, 2013 – Santa Monica College
•October 24, 2014 – Marysville Pilchuk High School
•October 5, 2015 – Umpqua Community College
•November 14, 2017 – Rancho Tehama Elementary School
•February 14, 2018 – Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. 
Regardless of political affiliation or personal beliefs about guns and gun control, it is safe to say that everyone of sound mind wants their own and everyone’s children and young people to be safe wherever they are. 
“You see it on the news, but you think it won’t happen here,” said one young student, a survivor of a previous school shooting. Yet, threats are real and some lead to real events. A spate of threats and rumors of threats of school shootings occurred over the weekend nationwide, also in Plato and Republic, Missouri.
Four students in Sedalia, MO discovered as well how real threats can be, and thankfully, responded appropriately.  The Sedalia Democrat reported Friday, February 16, that a 17-year old male student at Smith-Cotton High School was arrested on a second-degree charge of making a terrorist threat. He is in custody at the Pettis County Jail on a $20,000 cash or surety bond.
The students alerted the principal, and signed statements about their classmate’s behavior and explicit threats he had made over the previous two days. The principal notified the police. The arresting officer said: “These threats ranged from telling people they never knew when their last day would be, to outright stating he wanted to shoot fellow students, citing specific students he wished to target.” 
In Warsaw, R-IX school district Superintendent Shawn Poyser and Resource Officer David Fajen emphasized the importance of a proactive versus a reactive approach. Several security enhancements are in place, others are progressing. “Yet after each shooting we ask, are we doing enough?” Poyser said.
R-IX school district administrators comply with the mandates of the Missouri Safe Schools Act (1996), including but not limited to the conduct of annual security drills, but they do much more than meet minimum requirements. 
Security cameras installed strategically at every district school permit visual observation by secretaries or staff who “buzz in” anyone entering through the double entry doors.  To improve emergency response time and effectiveness, hallways have been color-coded and mapped, and the maps have been shared with E-911 and the sheriff’s department. The sheriff also has keys to the schools. Entrance doors are always locked, additionally, classroom doors throughout the district will have a secondary U-bolt lock, Fajen said.
Asked to comment on the suggestion that every school have two or three armed guards, Poyser said, “I feel a lot safer than ever before. I’m glad we put money towards hiring a Resource Officer, but it’s David’s experience and training, his relationships with people in the area, and his way of communicating with the staff, parents and kids that makes him an invaluable member of the administrative team.” 
Fajen believes there are pros and cons to having several people armed at the schools.  It is probably better, he said, for “parents to monitor their kids, and students and staff to monitor their surroundings. If they see something, to report it; notify law enforcement who can decide whether a situation is serious or not.”
Poyser said the question that everyone asks, is: “What can we do?” His best answer is, “If anyone has suspicion that someone has issues or is threatening, let school authorities and law enforcement know, don’t hesitate.” 
“And, once the newness of the latest shooting wears off,” Fajen said, “stay vigilant.”
Cruz was arrested for the premeditated murder of seventeen victims, fourteen young people and three teacher-coaches. Twenty-one more were wounded with the semi-automatic rifle he had legally purchased a year ago. 
Counting exactly how many mass school shootings have occurred since the Columbine massacre that left 17 dead in 1999 depends on the definition used by the source. Commonly, the term “mass” applies to a shooting when four or more are killed, excluding the shooter. Washington Post online February 15 applied that criterion to 11 mass shootings since Columbine:
•April 20, 1999 – Columbine High School
•March 21, 2005 – Red Lake Indian Reservation
•October 2, 2006 – West Nickel Mines Amish School
•April 16, 2007 – Virginia Tech
•February 14, 2008 – Northern Illinois University
•April 4, 2012 – Oikos University
•December 12, 2012 – Sandy Hook Elementary School
•June 7, 2013 – Santa Monica College
•October 24, 2014 – Marysville Pilchuk High School
•October 5, 2015 – Umpqua Community College
•November 14, 2017 – Rancho Tehama Elementary School
•February 14, 2018 – Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. 
Regardless of political affiliation or personal beliefs about guns and gun control, it is safe to say that everyone of sound mind wants their own and everyone’s children and young people to be safe wherever they are. 
“You see it on the news, but you think it won’t happen here,” said one young student, a survivor of a previous school shooting. Yet, threats are real and some lead to real events. A spate of threats and rumors of threats of school shootings occurred over the weekend nationwide, also in Plato and Republic, Missouri.
Four students in Sedalia, MO discovered as well how real threats can be, and thankfully, responded appropriately.  The Sedalia Democrat reported Friday, February 16, that a 17-year old male student at Smith-Cotton High School was arrested on a second-degree charge of making a terrorist threat. He is in custody at the Pettis County Jail on a $20,000 cash or surety bond.
The students alerted the principal, and signed statements about their classmate’s behavior and explicit threats he had made over the previous two days. The principal notified the police. The arresting officer said: “These threats ranged from telling people they never knew when their last day would be, to outright stating he wanted to shoot fellow students, citing specific students he wished to target.” 
In Warsaw, R-IX school district Superintendent Shawn Poyser and Resource Officer David Fajen emphasized the importance of a proactive versus a reactive approach. Several security enhancements are in place, others are progressing. “Yet after each shooting we ask, are we doing enough?” Poyser said.
R-IX school district administrators comply with the mandates of the Missouri Safe Schools Act (1996), including but not limited to the conduct of annual security drills, but they do much more than meet minimum requirements. 
Security cameras installed strategically at every district school permit visual observation by secretaries or staff who “buzz in” anyone entering through the double entry doors.  To improve emergency response time and effectiveness, hallways have been color-coded and mapped, and the maps have been shared with E-911 and the sheriff’s department. The sheriff also has keys to the schools. Entrance doors are always locked, additionally, classroom doors throughout the district will have a secondary U-bolt lock, Fajen said.
Asked to comment on the suggestion that every school have two or three armed guards, Poyser said, “I feel a lot safer than ever before. I’m glad we put money towards hiring a Resource Officer, but it’s David’s experience and training, his relationships with people in the area, and his way of communicating with the staff, parents and kids that makes him an invaluable member of the administrative team.” 
Fajen believes there are pros and cons to having several people armed at the schools.  It is probably better, he said, for “parents to monitor their kids, and students and staff to monitor their surroundings. If they see something, to report it; notify law enforcement who can decide whether a situation is serious or not.”
Poyser said the question that everyone asks, is: “What can we do?” His best answer is, “If anyone has suspicion that someone has issues or is threatening, let school authorities and law enforcement know, don’t hesitate.” 
“And, once the newness of the latest shooting wears off,” Fajen said, “stay vigilant.”
 

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