How police, schools prepare for school shootings

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — There have been 29 school shootings with injuries or death this year and five have happened this month.

Fifty-nine people have been injured or killed in school shootings this year.

Locally, Unified Police said it has been training for a situation like this for years. 

Jordan, Granite, and Canyons School Districts all said the reality is they practice school shooter drills because it could happen anywhere at any time.

In the case of the Oxford High School shooting in Michigan, students took cell phone videos that gives the public a better insight into what happened. 

Students at Oxford High School thought the school shooter was at the door, but police later revealed it was an officer, but students called it a red flag when the officer called them bro. 

The above video shows that back and forth.

“I think it is normal human nature to maybe be skeptical of that,” said UPD Sgt. Melody Cutler. “Maybe it is someone who really wants to shoot us and make us open the door.”

UPD said officers spend hours learning and improving on how to respond to a school shooting if it were to ever happen in Utah.

“I am hoping that the public can understand that even though it happens rarely and we don’t have a lot of those things around here, we do train a lot so that in the event it does happen we are prepared and ready to respond and be active with that.”

That school shooting in Michigan prompted ABC4 to reach out to many school districts to hear how they protect their students and staff.

Granite School District said this:

“Yesterday’s tragic events in Michigan are an ongoing reminder that students, parents and schools should be ever vigilant to work to keep each other safe. Despite the advancements in technology and thousands of cameras on school property, the eyes and ears of our students in reporting unsafe behavior continue to be our most effective tool in combating these threats. Students can report their concerns anonymously utilizing the SafeUT app or to our weapons hotline at (801) 664-2929. On occasion, we receive helpful tips related to these same types of concerns. The app has helped to save lives and we highly encourage students and families to familiarize themselves with it. We are constantly reviewing various concerns and threats that arise and modify our plans and preparation to address these ever-evolving situations. Parents should know that our primary concern is the safety and well-being of their children and we will continue to work to that end.

Canyons School District said this:

School safety has always been a topic of discussion — and action — in the Canyons School District. Some measures are obvious, such as security cameras, emergency preparedness drills that schools practice throughout the year and vestibules that require visitors to check-in at the Main Office before entering schools. But much of what we do is invisible. From the Internet filters we use to safeguard students from accessing inappropriate online content to the consistent rules and expectations we enforce to keep our classrooms free from bullying, harassment and discrimination, Canyons District is building safe schools from the inside out.  In the past five years, and spurred by an altercation between students at the edge of a middle school campus, Canyons has put into place an action plan to build and maintain welcoming, secure and prepared schools. News of any incident at a school, whether nearby or in another part of the country, reminds us that we must remain vigilant and prepared.   
Here are additional measures:  

•District regularly updates its crisis-response manual, which includes training modules for such emergencies as fire, earthquake, fire, and bomb threats. Principals also have been trained on how to respond to active-shooter or an intruder on campus. The manual has detailed protocols for communicating with police, parents and community leaders in the event of an emergency.

•Schools are required to practice drills throughout the year. Elementary students participate in these drills at least once a month. Secondary schools conduct quarterly drills. Required drill-compliance reports are compiled monthly. Completion of the drills is reviewed as part of each principal’s annual evaluation.•We believe all students should feel welcome in our schools. Our principals, counselors, psychologists, and teachers are working hard to make sure each school has a positive and inviting environment. A school psychologist and/or social worker has been assigned to every Canyons District school to support faculty and staff in reinforcing positive behavior and creating a culture of inclusivity.

•Canyons District redoubled efforts to market the SafeUT mobile app, which gives students the ability to post anonymous tips about unsafe situations. The tips are monitored 24 hours a day and seven days a week by school administrators and licensed counselors at the University of Utah. Every threat or referral is immediately acted upon.

•Security vestibules committed to building security vestibules at every school. These design features require visitors to enter the Main Office before they are granted access to hallways and classrooms. The vast majority of schools in Canyons have the vestibules.

•Funds from two general obligation bonds approved by the public have allowed Canyons District to rebuild schools with safety in mind. The new schools are seismically safe, have surveillance systems, and automatic locks that require employees to have an ID badge to gain entry. Entryways and exits also are strategically located.

.•CSD co-funds School Resource Officer positions with local law-enforcement partners.

Jordan School District said this:

“We train staff and students on a regular basis for a wide variety of situations and possibilities. Student and staff safety is our top priority.”

Sgt. Melody Cutler said the phrase students and staff need to keep in mind is “run, hide, fight.”

“As an absolute last resort if it is your life or putting up a fight, go ahead and put up that fight,” said Cutler.

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