WESTCHESTER, Ill. -- The Florida school shooting is forcing authorities to take a hard look at what preventative measures and what emergency plans they have in place.
It’s difficult for some school districts to get on board with intense active threat plans they think may scare their children or parents too much. So, Westchester police are taking baby steps to make school staff comfortable with very real life drills.
Westchester’s school resource officer Rob Verber sent emails to any school or business in the town that does not have an active threat plan in place, like pre-schools, and said “our collaboration on this is paramount.”
It’s a very basic plan in District 92: Lights out, windows shut, doors locked. Stay in your classroom or get out.
“I’m pretty frank, if you have the ability to leave the building, if you’re near an exit, utilize it,” Verber said.
Recently the three public schools in Westchester put in security vestibules, basically a second set of doors, so visitors need to be buzzed in twice. But Officer Verber knows that’s not enough and he knows if someone gets into the school, every minute that ticks by is critical.
“As we train every minute that we take to get to the threat that’s another life that’s being taken,” he said.
Constant training is necessary, whether it’s at Joliet Junior College, or just two days ago, when Westchester, Hillside and Broadview officers trained for active shooters like that in Florida.
“To see this happening to our students. It’s very disturbing on so many levels and as a parent you have so much more skin in this,” Officer Verber said.
And that’s why parents need to get involved by asking questions about your school’s active threat drill. Do not assume anything.
“When you’re sending your child to school you need to have these conversations with school administrators, principals and school staff,” Verber said.
Officer Verber wants more situations that are closer to reality, like firing blank rounds in a school without warning so students and staff know what a gunshot sounds like. He knows he may get push back, but he feels in this day and age it’s absolutely necessary.