As spring break nears an end for many schools in the area, the halls of St. Joseph Christian were pretty quiet for much of the week. But on Thursday, faculty and law enforcement spent part of their break making sure that when the halls aren’t quiet, but full of students and the unthinkable happens, a plan of action is ready to go.
Eighteen people representing law enforcement agencies from around the western Missouri and eastern Kansas area, as well as members of St. Joseph Christian faculty, took part in a training session with Strategos International. The company specializes in law enforcement and military tactical training, in this case with the intent to prepare schools in the event of an armed suspect entering the building and opening fire, according to company vice-president Mark Warren.
“So many people have the belief that this is a good community. This is never going to happen here,” Warren said. “I would venture to say that every one of the locations that you bring up. Whether it’s Jonesboro, Arkansas, Virginia Tech University, Blacksburg Virginia, Kansas City with the Jewish shooting as of recent … if you went there the day before it happened you would find somebody that said, ‘that will never happen here.’”
Thursday’s event was held to train others who will then take that knowledge to schools, businesses and churches throughout the region. Warren explained the approach taken is one of simplicity and a three-point approach.
“Lockout, get out, take out,” Warren explained.
The current three-point approach Warren and his fellow instructors said is taught by government agencies is, “run, hide, fight.” He said the methods taught to those in attendance at St. Joseph Christian emphasizes securing a room before attempting to escape, in an effort to put time between an active shooter and those attempting to run.
“The reality is this: there’s a professional first responder. Those are our police officers, but there is a true first responder, and those are the people that are there when this occurs,” he explained. “You dial 911, the police are coming but what will you do in the meantime?”
Much of what is taught by Strategos’ trainers deals with using simple means to lock down rooms. Ready made ropes, pre-cut, tied and ready to use to secure doors and to be kept in classrooms and offices. The company also stresses the “take down” or “fight” option should be a last resort, but one those in danger shouldn’t be hesitant to use.
As officers and faculty were led from room to room at St. Joseph Christian, the question was asked in each, “what in here can be used as a weapon?” It’s a system of thinking the school’s operations administrator, Charlotte McElroy, said she believes in.
“What can I do? What can I use that I have around me?” McElroy said. “There really is no quick fix, it’s a layered approach. How many layers can I put into place to protect our kids?”
McElroy is now charged with training her staff with what she learned on Thursday and she said she’s happy to deliver the lesson. “We know that’s the key to successful school is planning and preparing and training and this is just one of those things that prepares us for the unfortunate event,” she said.
By Alex Flippin | FOX 26 KNPN