School safety discussion continues

Since the recent tragedies and growing number of school shootings and violence, many schools have been strengthening options to keep people safe. From local governments to the federal government, ideas from metal detectors to guns in the classroom have been proposed.

In the Cedar Valley, Officer Chad Walderbach and Lt. Joe Tyler began teaching a training program at UNI for students and faculty to learn about how to be prepared in the event of a violent incident. “The program Joe and I teach was created in Texas in 2000. It was created to provide a better solution to lockdown protocols after the Columbine shooting in April of 1999,” Walderbach said.

With this new program, the goal is to get the public to feel more prepared in the event they are caught in a dangerous situation. “The training we offer is Violent Incident Defense Strategies. This training is not Gun Safety training. It does focus on active shooter incidents, but this training can be applied to any type of violent incident. Lt. Joe Tyler and I began instructing the program in the fall of 2012,” Walderbach said.

In many ways, this program is very unique and stands out from the typical lockdown drill, which focuses on waiting for help. “The training is a more proactive approach than anything we have done in the past. Most of the training when it comes to active shooter incidents is how law enforcement responds where this training is focused on the public’s response,” Walderbach said.

Instead of just hiding under a desk, this program gives people more solutions when faced with a violent situation. “I think the biggest thing people can take away from the training is there is more than one option when being confronted with a violent incident. Furthermore, having options will allow people to make a choice given the circumstances in front of them,” Walderbach said.

While this particular training is only open to students and staff at UNI, other Iowa colleges have similar programs.

Associate Principal Dana Deines and the CF District Safety Committee have discussed exploring a similar safety approach for our school district. “The CF District Safety Committee has discussed holding a Staff Training/Active Shooter Training Plan,” Deines said. “We have been proceeding cautiously in making changes to our emergency procedures due to the controversial nature of the proposed ALICE response to active shooter plans.”

Since the beginning of the year, administrators have been discussing this option.

“Our school district administrators also attended a safety conference earlier this year to  learn more and discuss our response to  these types of emergency procedures.”

The committee has discussed a program that involves taking action against a shooter, much like the UNI training. “One program being considered is call the ALICE program. We are continuing to discuss these ideas as an additional response to our district lockdown and evacuation plans,” Deines said.

However, it is a concern whether or not younger students should be involved with this type of program. “We are aware of the controversial nature of teaching (the ALICE Response to) our young students to engage/distract/fight any active shooter.”

The next steps in this plan will be discussed at a board meeting in early May.

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