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Active-Shooter Drills on the Rise at K-12 Schools in the Wake of Sandy Hook Massacre

Active-Shooter Drills on the Rise at K-12 Schools in the Wake of Sandy Hook Massacre

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Published by A.J. MacDonald, Jr.
One morning in early April, on the grounds of Richard Gahr High School in Cerritos, the crack of at least 100 gunshots pierced the calm. A few explosions shook the ground.

A few weeks later, at a K-12 charter school in rural Oregon, two masked gunmen burst into a gathering of teachers during a staff-development day. They took aim at the unsuspecting faculty members and opened fire. Bam! Bam! Bam! The shots went off like firecrackers.

In both situations, the bullets were blanks, and the gunmen were law enforcement officers or volunteers conducting a drill.
One morning in early April, on the grounds of Richard Gahr High School in Cerritos, the crack of at least 100 gunshots pierced the calm. A few explosions shook the ground.

A few weeks later, at a K-12 charter school in rural Oregon, two masked gunmen burst into a gathering of teachers during a staff-development day. They took aim at the unsuspecting faculty members and opened fire. Bam! Bam! Bam! The shots went off like firecrackers.

In both situations, the bullets were blanks, and the gunmen were law enforcement officers or volunteers conducting a drill.

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Published by: A.J. MacDonald, Jr. on Jun 09, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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06/09/2013

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Active-shooter drills on the rise at K-12schools in the wake of Sandy Hookmassacre
By Rob Kuznia Staff Writerrob.kuznia@dailybreeze.com@robkuznia on TwitterPosted: 06/08/2013 10:43:24 AM PDTUpdated: 06/08/2013 10:56:09 AM PDTAuthorities conducted an active-shooter training exercise Tuesday morning at Ann PeppersHall on the University of Redlands campus, according to the Redlands police. Emergencypreparedness drills allow emergency responders to evaluate tactics and readiness for similaremergencies. (Rick Sforza / Staff Photographer.)
One morning in early April, on the grounds of Richard Gahr High School inCerritos, the crack of at least 100 gunshots pierced the calm. A few explosionsshook the ground.
 
 A few weeks later, at a K-12 charter school in rural Oregon, two masked gunmenburst into a gathering of teachers during a staff-development day. They took aimat the unsuspecting faculty members and opened fire. Bam! Bam! Bam! Theshots went off like firecrackers.In both situations, the bullets were blanks, and the gunmen were lawenforcement officers or volunteers conducting a drill.Had they occurred on the prior side of Dec. 14, 2012, these events might haveseemed excessive. It's easy to imagine how the drill in Cerritos might have raisedsome eyebrows -- the media spectacle involved, the use of not only simulatedrounds and flash grenades, but also hundreds of people, including clergymembers, local business leaders, community safety volunteers and evenstudents drenched in fake blood. And it's difficult to imagine that the Oregon drill-- a complete surprise attack that left teachers terrified -- would have happenedat all.But the landscape has shifted since those five awful minutes at Sandy HookElementary School in Connecticut, when a heavily armed gunman, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, rampaged through the halls, killing 20 students and six adults atpoint-blank range before turning a gun on himself. Adding to the sense of heightened alert was Friday's deadly school shooting atSanta Monica College, the latest scene of an all-too-familiar tableau: policerunning to and fro with guns, dazed students being interviewed, emergencyvehicles racing around with lights flashing.The news cycle after these bloody outbursts tends to go from hot to cold on shortorder, but their imprint on the way communities approach school safety has beensteadily rippling outward -- especially since the Sandy Hook tragedy six monthsago.That horrific piece of American history has cast a spotlight on a certain type of school-safety exercise that, until now, most K-12 schools didn't really have thestomach to adopt: the active-shooter drill."It's a hard thing because teachers are teachers -- they want to teach," said KitBobko, mayor of Hermosa Beach, where the Police Department may soon beginactive-shooter drills in the schools. "They don't want to have to think about, 'Ohmy gosh, if a guy with a shotgun comes into my room, what am I going to do?'But we need to have some sort of plan in place."
 
Though colleges had been more apt to conduct elaborate versions of the shooter drills before Sandy Hook, the unthinkable carnage in Connecticut has spurredmany K-12 schools in the Los Angeles Basin and beyond to follow suit.Sandy Hook has given rise to other safety measures too -- such as doublingdown on counselor hours, installing more cameras on campus or prohibitingparents and the general public from walking onto the premises. But the active-shooter drill could prove to be the tragedy's most visible legacy. Active-shooter drills -- or intruder-on-campus exercises, as some officials prefer to call them -- are similar to the lockdown drills that many schools have longpracticed, wherein students and teachers hunker down in the classroom with thedoors locked and blinds drawn.The active-shooter drill is a variation on the theme, but with the creepy factor kicked up a notch.To be sure, most K-12 schools don't favor the showy version of the drillshowcased this spring at Gahr High. But they often do incorporate theimpersonation of a bad guy. Usually, this is a member of law enforcement whoroams around campus, jiggling door handles and peering into windows.Essentially, this new focus marks a shift in mind-set, from keeping intruders off campus to dealing with an undesirable who is on campus.Largely because state law doesn't require such exercises -- as is, schools arerequired only to conduct earthquake and fire drills -- the methods of preparing for the nightmare scenario vary by district.In the Los Angeles Unified School District, administrators this summer will, for thefirst time, be required to attend training on how to handle an active-shooter situation. Heretofore, the training has been geared toward lockdowns, said SteveZipperman, chief of the LAUSD police department."If an active shooter is on campus, perhaps a lockdown isn't the best option," hesaid, adding that the appropriate response "may involve quick relocations todifferent locations, either on or off campus."LAUSD also has beefed up security. In the immediate aftermath of the SandyHook massacre, the district allocated $4.2 million to hire 1,000-plus safety aidesto guard elementary schools.

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