Keeping students safe behind the scenes
February 17, 2017
Filed under Features
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“Please put that ID on!”
For four years, every student is likely going to hear these five words from a security guard at least once while strolling through the halls. But this is not the only job and challenge that Lane’s security team face each school day. Building relationships with students and keeping them safe from real dangers are at the top of their list.
Trying to build a relationship with the student body can become a conflict of interest, since the security staff is tasked with having the most watchful eyes in the school.
“I find it important to build relationships with the students, so that they will want to come to me if they see something,” said Ms. Jackson, who has been a security guard at Lane for over 15 years. This is one of many precautions that security at Lane takes in order to be ready in the event of any situation.
Assistant Principal Mr. Ara is the administrator in charge of hiring and supervising security staff. He said he realizes that it is impossible to be ready for every possible situation due to the element of surprise.
“No one is going to call and say that they are coming in; they will just show up and something will happen somewhere. It is how we react to that — that is how we protect the students,” Ara said.
According to Ara, the school is currently prepared for an active shooter situation based on the training students get in the lockdown drills. These drills are meant to help prepare in the event of an actual situation.
“The drill is supposed to essentially mimic the real situation,” Ara said. While the drills are meant to be close to the actions that students and teachers would take, like drawing the shades and locking doors to the classroom, there are alternative options that involve a more dramatic experience.
In a WGN feature story, Joliet Junior College showed off an active shooter drill in conjunction with the Joliet Police Department. WGN reported that on Jan. 5, actors in six classrooms used authentic sounding guns and acted as active shooters. Participants in the class were then entrusted with handling the situation like they would if it were real. After the demonstration a group discussion followed in the school common area.
This drill incorporated fear and confusion among other emotions during the test as many of the participants stated in the discussion. Based on this drill, a student’s fear and confusion appears likely to kick in during a real situation. Many of the participants in the drill attributed these emotions to the shots being fired within the building.
Barrington School District 220 has also conducted similar drills at Barrington High School and the two middle schools, according to the Chicago Tribune. These drills “employ reaction techniques in keeping students safe.” There is a planned drill to take place at Roslyn Elementary School, also in Barrington, on Feb. 17.
Could a drill like this ever happen at Lane?
“A part of me thinks it would be great, but how much would we be taking away from their education with a full day or half day,” said Mr. Smith, Lane’s Chief of Security.
Smith said that currently Lane has no immediate plans to use a more realistic drill; however it is something that has been discussed.
A new drill may not be an option, but the school takes other precautions to keep students safe. Lane makes sure to hire the best possible staff through careful interviews.
“The interview asks how they would interact with the students or how they would respond to a situation,” Ara said. He also echoed Smith’s point that Lane has discussed alternative drills, but there are no immediate changes in place.
On top of hiring well trained security staff, Lane has always worked in conjunction with the Chicago Police Department to station two officers in and around the school according to Ara. Smith and the rest of the staff in charge of security concerns seem confident with the current measures in place and appear active in searching for new approaches to the lockdown drill.
“Of course we are always looking to make stuff better, but I think it is a very good drill. We can maybe just look for better situations,” Smith said.