Security firm discusses school safety

Mark Warren, with Strategos security firm, speaks to a group of parents and teachers Monday night at Kilpatrick Elementary School. Warren was discussing how to help prevent a school shooting.

About 800 Texarkana, Ark., School District staff members across four campuses underwent intensive safety and security training Monday morning.

The training session was provided by Missouri-based Strategos International LLC from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Trice and Kilpatrick elementary schools, Arkansas High School and North Heights Junior High.

“Today we had probably the best training we’ve ever had. The hands-on training was invaluable,” Superintendent Becky Kesler said.

The training session was for all staff, from teachers to custodians and everyone in between. Teachers learned important safety techniques to be used in a lockdown situation, and bus drivers learned advanced techniques to control access to their vehicles and further protect their passengers.

“A bus is an extension of the school campus; it’s a rolling classroom. Bus drivers potentially face the same dangers as those inside the schoolroom,” said Strategos Vice President Mark Warren.

Texarkana, Ark., police also took part in the training. Warren noted the importance for community and police to follow the same plan to avoid conflict.

“We focused on what to do when a lockdown fails. These are the nightmare situations. Sandy Hook, Columbine and Virginia Tech were all lockdown failures,” said Strategos President Vaughn Baker.

The security firm also took photos of campus facilities to provide safety assessments of the campuses.

“We’ll use the photos to find possible weaknesses and recommend improvements for safety,” Warren said.

Monday evening Strategos offered a presentation for parents to help identify possible signs of danger and what to do if they encounter them. The session addressed the importance of getting involved to protect the community and what parents and school staff can do to ensure safety.

During the presentation, Warren discussed how some school attackers fall through the cracks.

“People who may have heard warning signs that an attack is possible often misjudge the situation. They often don’t realize the likelihood or immediacy of potential attacks,” Warren said. “The most important aspect in these situations is not response, but prevention.”

The security firm noted threats of suicide, bullying, interest in weapons and fighting and threats against peers are all potential danger signs.

“These are things that must be taken seriously and can potentially be deadly,” Warren said.

Strategos also emphasized the importance of following procedures in a worst-case scenario, especially responding to a designated area other than the school.

“It’s difficult to resist, but we can’t get in the way of emergency personnel. Access can quickly be blocked for emergency vehicles,” Warren said.