Practice. Practice. Practice. This is something that we have all heard since we were young kids. If you were an athlete, you needed to practice in order to gain proficiency in your sport or prepare for a game. If you were a musician, you spent hours practicing to excel or prepare for a recital or concert. As law enforcement officers, we continually train and practice our tactics and skills for when it is needed to protect and serve the citizens in our communities.
The same principle applies to school students and staff and the emergency drills they should be practicing every year. Telling students and staff how to go into lockdown in the event of an emergency isn’t the same as properly conducting a hands-on drill where teachers practice securing their location while supervising and directing a classroom full of students. Nerves may be jumping and heart rates may increase a little during the drill, but that’s exactly what needs to happen to ensure competency in the event of an emergency.
Some questions you need to ask yourself regarding a lockdown at your school:
- How do teachers secure classroom doors?
- Does the door lock from the inside or do you have to open the door and use a key to lock it from the hallway?
- Do teachers keep keys with them at all times or are they locked in a bag or desk drawer?
- What do you do secure classroom windows?
- What do you do if one of your students is out of the room when a lockdown is initiated?
- How will staff and students react to a critical incident on the campus?
- How are they notified?
The answers to these questions shouldn’t be too difficult to determine as long as you have practiced your emergency drills. If you don’t know the answer to one or more of these questions, your drills aren’t properly preparing you.
Don’t just go through the motions of a drill to “check the box” that says you met your requirement; this does not benefit anyone, in fact it can cause more harm than good. Conduct your drills frequently and take them seriously. Remember, these drills will help you gain proficiency in the event that an critical incident occurs on your campus.
Practice. Practice. Practice…
Kevin Quinn is the past president of the National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO www.nasro.org), current President of the Arizona School Resource Officers Association (ASROA www.asroa.org), and a full time SRO in Arizona. Contact Kevin via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or @klah316 on Twitter.