Keeping our schools safe: DCSD safety and security and how you can help
Pictured left: Kim Jones, Campus Safety Specialist at Castle Rock Middle School
CASTLE ROCK- Douglas County School District’s (DCSD) Safety and Security team is dedicated to keeping all students, employees, parents and community members safe.
National studies show there have been 186 firearms discharged in schools since the tragic event at Sandy Hook.
DCSD’s Safety and Security team has created a comprehensive plan consisting of many layers, including physical security measures, training and prevention. The layers of security are designed to protect our children in the event of an imminent threat to one of our schools or facilities.
“Security and mental health personnel provide training to teachers and school staff,” said Director of Safety and Security Rich Payne. “Additionally, students are taught what to expect during a lockdown and then participate in lockdown, fire, evacuation and shelter-in-place drills. Our purpose when we conduct drills is to make sure that everybody is successful. We go into every single classroom and we speak with the kids to make sure that they understand the importance of the drill.”
The feedback Payne receives from law enforcement officers is that consistency is key.
To enhance this consistency, Payne and Assistant Superintendent Steve Cook met with high school and middle school principals earlier this year to finalize a plan that changes the reporting structure of Campus Security Specialists from their site’s leadership to DCSD’s Safety and Security department. This is now in effect for the 2016-17 school year.
“We believe better coordination between the Safety and Security department and our campus safety specialists will help us meet our goal of providing the safest environment possible, so that our students can focus on learning,” Payne said.
“We now have officers checking doors, documenting when they are checking the doors so that we can hold them accountable and have better standards of training,” he said. “We put together multiple trainings that they will be going through this year to make sure we have consistent training across the board.”
Based on feedback from law enforcement, campus safety specialists are also in new uniforms this year, with “security” clearly marked in block letters on the back of their shirts so that their role is clear to students, staff, parents, visitors and patrol officers.
Campus safety specialists are just one of several layers of security in the Douglas County School District. All District employees are expected to report threats, suspicious behaviors, bullying or other activities in which they feel students or staff may be endangered. Students and the community are also key partners to report potential threats.
“We have two ways students and parents can report suspicious activity or a friend in crisis. Douglas County Sheriff’s Office offers Text-A-Tip, which is a two-way dialogue taught in the high schools. In our middle and elementary schools, students are taught to use Safe2Tell from the Colorado Attorney General’s office,” Payne said. “We have received tips through both programs that have helped avoid tragedies, as well as helped us connect with a student in crisis who may have been contemplating suicide.”
When it comes to safety and security, below are things Douglas County families should become familiar with, as well as actions they can take to partner with law enforcement and DCSD safety and security personnel.
Standard Response Protocol (SRP):
The Standard Response Protocol (SRP) is an emergency response plan for any scenario at a DCSD facility. All DCSD employees and students receive annual training. Parents and guardians should become familiar with the SRP, verbiage used and corresponding actions, as well, in the event an incident should occur at your child’s school.
1. Lockout - Action: Secure the perimeter.
A lockout occurs when there is a threat outside of the building. This can include police activity in the neighborhood, wildlife on school grounds or another threat outside of the school or nearby. Doors to the outside are locked and the perimeter is secured. Class is usually conducted as normal, with increased situational awareness.
2. Lockdown - Action: Lock, lights, out of sight.
Lockdown is the protocol used to secure individual rooms and keep students quiet and in place when there is a threat inside the facility. Teachers will lock classroom doors and turn lights out. Occupants of rooms will not unlock their rooms for anything or anyone. When the incident is over, a responsible person capable of unlocking the room from out in the hall (administrator, Law Enforcement, etc.) will unlock the door and brief the occupants.
3. Shelter - Action: Follow directions.
Shelter is the protocol usually used for weather events or hazardous materials on site. Specific instruction is given with the action. For example, instead of just announcing shelter, the command may be “Shelter for tornado, drop cover and hold.” The command will be to shelter, what we are sheltering from and the specific self protection action to do.
4. Evacuate - Action: Follow the directions.
Evacuate means moving students in an orderly fashion from point A to point B. A fire drill is really: “Evacuate Out of the Building.” With the SRP, Evacuate is always followed by a location. For instance: Evacuate to the Gym. The order to evacuate will always be followed by a location. Students and staff will leave belongings such as backpacks and books behind. In the case of an emergency, parents will receive notification from the Community Relations team, including instructions on where to pick up their children.
In partnership with the law enforcement agencies of Douglas County, DCSD high school students can send an anonymous tip via a text message from their cell phone (the number to text is displayed on posters hanging in the school). The tips are completely secure and anonymous.
Safe2Tell provides young people a way to report any threatening behaviors or activities endangering themselves or someone they know, in a way that keeps them safe and anonymous.
The DCSD Dispatch Communication Center serves as the primary point of contact for staff, DCSD stakeholders and outside agencies during and after normal business hours. It is staffed 24-hours a day and is a liaison for multiple law enforcement agencies and has the ability to grant access to all facilities remotely in the event of an emergency.
DCSD security dispatch can be reached at 303-387-9999.