By CAT SMITH
BULLHEAD CITY—Local school officials and law enforcement say one thing in common to protecting the students, and its community from an active shooter incident is: preparedness.
In wake of the tragic school shooting at Majore Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the question now is just how protected are our children here? Even though shootings aren’t always thwarted before they happen, drills and working together with their local law enforcement agencies is a key point on protection.
Colorado River Union High School District spokesman Lance Ross said all their schools in the district—Desert Valley Elementary, Coyote Canyon, Sunrise Elementary, Bullhead City Junior High, Mohave High, and River Valley—all practice throughout the year an “active shooter” scenario.
“Both Bullhead City Elementary School District and CRUHSD have excellent working relationships with the two local law enforcement agencies—Bullhead City Police Department and Mohave County Sheriff’s Office—where our schools are located, as well as first responders,”said Ross.
Three local campuses have full-time School Resource Officers assigned, while a fourth is based at another campus. Officers with the BHCPD patrol the campuses frequently looking for anything out of the ordinary.
Not all drills are planned though.
Ross said there are times students may be aware of a drill, while other may involve security or administrative personnel.
“In order to protect our students and faculty, the District doesn’t disclose the details of security drills,” said Ross. “Rather, information gathered is shared with law enforcement, which usually participates at various levels during the drills. However, every campus has lockdown drills during the school year.”
When asked if any of the school budget had affected proper security upgrades, Ross said quite the contrary.
“A portion of the 2016 bond measure approved by voters included the realignment of campus entrance points at Mohave High School, similar to what is already in place at River Valley High School,” he explained. “All nine BCESD & CRUHSD campuses are closed, with limited access.”
Ross said if an incident does happen, or a threat is perceived, parents are notified using a combination of communication lines, such as auto-dialers, email blasts and social media alerts.
“Parents are encouraged to make sure that their phone numbers and email addresses are current with each school their child attends,” he said.
Ross also encouraged parents to follow the District’s Facebook page @crsk12az for alerts and updates.
Bullhead City Police Chief Brian Williamson echoed Ross’ words on the importance of police personnel and school staff working together to protect the students from any danger.
“We work with the schools by responding to calls for service, identifying and responding to suspicious circumstance and providing education for students, parents and staff,” Williamson said. “The SRO’s are involved in the school lock down drills and the police department officers train school staff on active shooter responses.”
Another important issue with helping thwart school shootings is the “See Something, Say Something” slogan.
Both agree on the importance of speaking out to a school and/or police official when something doesn’t seem right.
“See something, say something” is imperative in today’s day and age,” said Williamson. “If parents or students read or hear something that may be construed as a threat to our schools, we need them to advise the school and police.”
He continued, “The police department will thoroughly investigate all of these situations. There is not always a violation of the law, so sometimes what we can do as a police department is limited. However, we will look into all threats or potential threats and take appropriate action.”
“It applies to all students,staff and parents,” said Ross. “Information is routinely shared with local law enforcement, often the Student Resource Officer.”
Ross added that the school district’s have worked closely with the Colorado River Women’s Council’s P.O.K.E. (Protecting Our Kids’ Environment) project. The program was spearheaded by Bullhead City resident Maureen Anderson following the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Conn.
Anderson’s idea was to supply nearly all the elementary school classrooms, from Laughlin to Topock, with a “Sleeve”, a backpack filled with emergency items. The backpack would be so the doors of the classrooms would not have to be opened during an active shooter incident or other emergency situations.
In 2016, more than 400 area classrooms received the first round of “Sleeves” in Bullhead City, Mohave Valley and Topock Elementary School District’s, said Ross. Bennett Elementary, Mohave Accelerated Learning Center and Young Scholars Academy were also receipents of the emergency bags.
If you suspect something isn’t right, reach out to an adult or call your local law enforcement agency immediately.