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School Lockdowns - Feb 2019

On Thursday February 21, at about 8:25 a.m. Shadow Butte Elementary received a call from Keith Aamodt, School Resources Officer, telling them to go into lockdown. They immediately went into lockdown. Students gathered into locked classrooms. All outside doors were locked. Buses arriving for the start of school were diverted to Emmett Middle School. A staff member met parents and asked them not to drop off their students. When the building was secured and all other systems were in place the principal sent a message to parents. At this point the school did not know the nature of the threat.

This threat was not directly against the school. It involved a disturbance that potentially involved an individual with a firearm at an address very near the school. The Sheriff and Police Departments were able to apprehend the suspect and secure the situation. At 8:55 a.m. the Resource Officer called the school and removed them from lockdown.

These situations are scary for our parents, students, staff, and community. The number one priority is to keep the students safe. We can be proud of how our local officers, school Principal, staff parents, and students reacted in this situation. Many aspects went very well but, there are areas where we can improve.

At 4:00 p.m. on Thursday, February 21, an after-action review was held at the district office. This meeting included Officers from Emmett Police, Gem County Sheriff, district, and school staff. As we reviewed the situation we discovered areas that were successful in securing our students. Most importantly, when the call came in to dispatch, the Resource Officer did not hesitate to put the school in lockdown. One mistake we made was that the message to parents was sent out through e-mail and not through text and voice mail.

In a crisis, communication becomes critical. In a lockdown, the principal needs to be focused on the safety of students and securing the school. As we discussed in our after-action review, the district needs to create an incident command center at another site, in most cases the district office. At the incident comand, communication and decision making will be coordinated — allowing the principal to focus on the decision he must make inside the school and allowing for others to communicate with police and fire, parents, bus drivers, and other schools and agencies. One advantage we now have is that our new school camera system will allow monitoring of the school building during an incident.

Keeping our children safe is our number one priority. We have great relationships among the Emmett Police Department, Gem County Sheriff, city and county fire departments, EMS, Valor Health, and our schools. These relationships are critical to the safety of our children. Each time we have an incident we review what happened and make changes to improve our response so that our students are safe.

Wayne Rush