Local schools ‘on guard’ after Connecticut shootingDWU advises staff on ‘shooter situation,’ public schools review procedures.
By: Tom Lawrence, The Daily Republic
Mitchell public schools were “on guard more than usual” after the mass killing at a Connecticut elementary school Friday morning, according to Superintendent Joe Graves.
“When we see these things we basically as an administrative staff review our procedures and put ourselves on guard more than usual,” Graves said Friday afternoon.
The district administrators discussed lockdown procedures, how to respond to an emergency and security measures, he said.
The district has exterior and interior locking systems, Graves said. All doors that lead to the outside can be locked from a central point, while classroom doors and other doors inside the schools must be physically locked.
In South Dakota, it’s illegal to possess a gun on elementary or secondary school grounds or in a school vehicle in almost all cases. Law enforcement personnel can have them, and guns used to start sporting events, for training programs, or at firing ranges during gun shows, are allowed on or in school property. In all other cases, it’s a misdemeanor to possess the weapons.
Graves said students don’t seem to be impacted by such events.
“I don’t see them focusing much on it,” Graves said. “Young people don’t tend to personalize or individualize these events to their lives.”
He said he doesn’t draw a lot of conclusions from this latest horrific event in a school.
“We are a species of a fallen nature,” Graves said.
After the shooting, Dakota Wesleyan University sent an email to its faculty and staff, listing some of the steps to be taken in case there is a highly dangerous situation on campus, according to Lori Essig, DWU’s vice president for university relations.
The university had planned to unveil the program in January, Essig said, but officials chose to release at least part of it Friday in the wake of the multiple shootings. This past summer, several DWU staffers attended an “active shooter situation” presentation by an expert who was brought in by the Mitchell Police Division.
In such programs, people are taught to evacuate the area, take shelter and hide and, only as a last result, confront the shooter. It also teaches people how to recognize signs that a person is growing unstable and may become dangerous.
“It’s really, really hard to predict situations like that,” Essig said. “But there are signs.”
Mitchell Public Safety Chief Lyndon Overweg said the Police Division didn’t do anything special Friday. But he said officers trained how to deal with an active shooter a few months ago at Mitchell High School.
Overweg said officers follow tips, pay attention to reports of odd online comments and prepare for any eventuality. They try to be ready.
“Some of it’s predictable,” he said. “Some of it’s unpredictable.”