DAVIS COUNTY, Utah (ABC4) – On Sept. 7, a man entered E. G. King Elementary School, wandered into a classroom, stole a backpack and left the school. Police later found the man. The school maintenance team checked to make sure all doors were in working order, and the school district is positive this type of incident is unlikely to happen at any other schools.
“It’s about doing everything we can inside to keep the school as safe as possible,” Davis School District Director of Communication and Operations Chris Williams told ABC4. He was referring to all the safety measures and protocols already in place across the district’s schools. He explained that over the years, the district has spent millions of dollars improving campus security and installing cameras.
For example, Sunset Jr. High School is one of the oldest schools in the district. Nonetheless, it has secure access features. There is only one way into the school through the main doors. Visitors walk through the front doors and enter a foyer. The second set of doors are always locked. An iPad sits near the doors and parents can use the tablet to check their child out of school.
Visitors looking to gain access to the main office must ring a doorbell which has a camera attached to it. Office staff ask who the person is and why they are visiting the school. At that point, the staff may also ask to see a picture I.D.
While the entrance to each school varies, all schools are equipped with a similar set up to ensure secure access.
E.G. King Elementary School has visitors go through a similar process. However, on Sept. 7, a man entered the school through a side door. “Right towards the end of the day and made his way into a classroom and had stolen a backpack,” Layton Police Department Public Information Officer Lt. Travis Lyman stated.
According to Lt. Lyman, the man spent around 10 minutes inside the school before he made his way back outside.
Williams told ABC4 the man went unnoticed while inside the school. The classroom he entered was one of many that was empty at that time. Students were on a field trip in Farmington. When the students returned to school, one student realized their backpack was missing. “The principal got on the cameras, found the individual that entered the building,” Williams added.
The principal called the police. The principal wasn’t alone in calling. Lt. Lyman explained, “We got another call for service involving somebody that called in and said there was a guy wandering out in traffic right in that same area. Cars were having to slow down to go around him, and they were concerned about what he was doing out in the road.”
Lt. Lyman told ABC4 that officers quickly identified the man as the same individual who’d been in the school. Upon apprehending the suspect, officers believed he was going through a mental health crisis. He was taken to a local hospital for treatment. Lt. Lyman told ABC4 the police department does not believe the man meant any harm and doesn’t present any additional threat.
“We had our maintenance crews go out there and check any doors that and make repairs to any doors that were not secure,” Williams stated. School doors atomically lock when closed (doors leading outside). However, the school district encouraged parents to talk to their kids about the importance of always making sure school doors close behind them to keep all students safe.
The district and police department said this incident is also a good reminder for parents to talk to their children about speaking up when they see something that seems “off.” Williams emphasized that by saying: “If you see something, say something. If you see something that’s out of character. If you see someone that looks suspicious. If you feel like, hm, I’m not necessarily sure, tell someone.”