WILKES-BARRE TWP. — At a seminar for school teachers and administrators, state Trooper Tom Kelly warned teachers a shooter will enter a school with only goal in mind, to kill people.
McCann School of Business & Technology held an all-day session Friday titled, “Preparing for the Worst: A Seminar on Awareness and Protection from an Active Shooter.”
Kelly and a fellow state police Special Emergency Response Team Trooper Joseph Breck primed the audience of about 40 teachers, administrators and school safety officers on what to expect if someone goes into their schools with ill intentions.
Kelly was frank in warning school employees that when police go into a school looking for a shooter, they’re not looking to help victims immediately. They are most concerned about bringing down the intruder.
He said teachers should not rush toward officers or ask for help. Try to get out of the building.
“We don’t know who the good guy is, who the bad guy is,” Kelly said.
In an active-shooter situation, Kelly said it is good for schools officials to be prepared with rally points outside the school and ways for teachers to track students who are picked up by their parents.
A state police Risk and Vulnerability Assessment Team that conducts school inspections has about two years worth of backlogged requests for assessments, but Kelly said there are dozens of things school employees can do to tighten internal security and make it easier for law enforcement to stop a shooter on campus.
“There’s nothing like common sense,” Kelly said. “There’s a lot you can do with a low budget.”
• Locking all classroom doors during class sessions.
• Teachers overseeing outdoor recess should stay vigilant, watching the perimeter for anything suspicious.
• Get to know the school. Be aware of areas that might be vulnerable or accessible by an intruder.
• Stop unknown visitors to ask what they are doing around or in the school.
• Follow your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, say something about it.
One school security officer said both students and teachers have to be aware of the risk that a shooter may enter the school. Johnny Hindmarsh from the Pittston Area Intermediate Center said school fire drills are effective, and schools will benefit from having active-shooter drills.
Todd Grudzinski, a part-time Exeter Township police sergeant and McCann’s legal program director, coordinated the seminar partly for personal reasons.
“I’m a father besides a police officer. If I can do anything to pass on the knowledge that might save a child, that was my intention with this program.” Grudzinski said.