RISD, nation, reviewing security
Reviewing, and evaluating, their school security procedures in light of a previously unimaginable horror, the wanton massacre of 20 children and six adult educators in an American elementary school.
“It was an emotional day for all of us,” Supt. Dr. Howell Wright Jr. told The Reporter after spending the day talking to administrators and educators in the wake of Friday’s shootings in Newtown, Connecticut.
“We began at 6:30 a.m.,” he said. “The campus principals, administrators and I conducted a thorough review of our security system. We got more ‘thank yous’ than we could count.”
OFFICER—Rockdale ISD has a security measure most schools—certainly most small schools—don’t possess.
Ofc. Tommy Shriver of the Rockdale Police Department is a full-time employee of the school district and is a highly-visible presence on all four campuses.
Shriver isn’t a “rent-a-cop” and he’s not in training.
“He’s a member of our department,” Lt. J. D. Newlin said. “He’s a policeman. Tommy works with us in the summer and when school isn’t in session.”
Shriver is employed through a memorandum of understanding between the City of Rockdale and the Rockdale ISD.
IMPLEMENTATION—Dr. Wright said the district will implement some changes after Monday’s evaluation recommended them, but that he could not go into detail.
“We know some changes might inconvenience the public a bit, but we’ve found when the security of children is involved the public has always been very cooperative,” he said.
SECURITY—In recent years, in light of the Columbine, Colorado, shootings and other incidents, Rockdale ISD has transformed itself drastically where security is concerned.
Visitors to all campuses must enter only through unlocked doors in full view of office staffs.
Anyone proceeding further into the schools must go through a security check and obtain a badge.
Yet, school officials in Rockdale, and elsewhere, are under no illusion even such thorough screening would have stopped the Connecticut shooter who broke into the school through a window.
INCIDENTS—Rockdale ISD has had two security incidents in the past two years, one ill-conceived juvenile prank and one that, in retrospect, is eerily reminiscent of how the Connecticut Massacre began.
Just under two months ago, Sept. 28, 2012, police received a call that a man had broken into the elementary cafeteria, through a window, while workers were preparing breakfast.
Police rushed to the school and found a 23-year-old Thorndale man hiding in a classroom closet.
Police termed the man “delusional” and said he had previously jumped out the bathroom window of his motel room several blocks away and run down the street to the school under the mistaken belief that someone was pursuing him. He was arrested.
On Dec. 10, 2010, a 16-year-old RHS student found a cell phone on the campus. He then used the phone to call the school and report an intruder had a weapon at the high school.
The campus was locked down while police conducted a search and located the student, who confessed. He was arrested on juvenile charges.
SHAKEN—Dr. Wright, like many if not all, educators admitted to being “shaken” by Friday’s events in Connecticut.
“My office is across the street from our elementary,” he said. “You look out at those kids and cannot even conceive of anyone doing something like this!”