State, Local Efforts Support School Security in Spokane

By Paige Browning

In the aftermath of the mall shooting in Oregon, and a mass-school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, Spokane jurisdictions are talking publicly about their school emergency plans. 

In a violent emergency, the Spokane County Sheriff’s is in charge.

“We’re no different from anyone else, we really don’t know what to think. You can prepare for situations like this but you just pray and hope that you never have to respond and use your training on something like this.”

Deputy Craig Chamberlin says in his 16 years he hasn’t dealt with a shooting like the one in Connecticut. But, he says deputies do two trainings a year to focus on active shooter situations. They do one in a school setting, and work with school districts year round on emergency preparation.

The director of safety, security, and transportation for Spokane Public Schools, Jason Connelly, says because emergencies can happen any time, educators and students are prepared.

“Learning is triggered when people feel safe. You want to have an environment where everyone does feel safe. When unfortunate things like this happen in the country it erodes some of that trust.”

Connelly says the state mandated new school safety laws in 2007. Under the requirements, schools have a communications guide, a transportation plan, emergency supplies, and are required to complete at least nine evacuation drills each year. Another element is a school mapping system that each school shares exclusively with law enforcement so they are aware of the full building layout in case of emergency.

Copyright 2012 Spokane Public Radio

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