Security pro reviews Gurnee schools’ crisis plans
By Frank Abderholden firstname.lastname@example.org February 12, 2013 7:20PM
Kenneth Trump, president and CEO of National School Safety and Security Services in Cleveland, Ohio, takes a tour of Woodland Intermediate School cafeteria and evaluates school security. He did recommend a solid gate that students can hide behind than the present grille style gate. | Thomas Delany Jr.~ Sun-Times Media
School districts 50 and 56 hired Kenneth Trump at a cost of $16,500 each, which came to a savings of $5,000 for each school, according to District 56 Superintendent John Hutton, whose district was assessed back in 2008, but now has a new school and students who have been moved to different buildings.
The comprehensive security audit includes plan review, site review, on-site and off-site interviews with various key community partners, including Gurnee police and the Lake County Sheriff’s Office.
Trump, who provided analysis for a number of national news outlets after the Newtown, Conn., shootings, has consulted and trained schools throughout the U.S. and Canada for school security and emergency preparedness.
On Friday, Woodland will be filming a training video regarding lock-down procedures using the school drama club and done in conjunction with the Gurnee Police Department. District 50 Superintendent Dr. Joy Swoboda said the video will be available to other school districts after it is edited.
Updated: March 14, 2013 6:28AM
GURNEE — “You need a balance between heartware and hardware,” said school security expert Kenneth Trump, who was hired by two Gurnee school districts to review their crisis plans this week and make recommendations in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings.
What he meant was while there is some hardware, like buzzers to let people into a school and heavy safety glass, he feels one of the most important factors are the human beings inside the school: Teachers, staff and students, and how they are trained to react to a situation.
Dr. Joy Swoboda, superintendent for Woodland Consolidated Community School District 50, and John Hutton, superintendent of Gurnee Grade School District 56, felt it was important to seek an outside perspective and Trump, of National School Safety and Security Services of Cleveland, had worked with Hutton when Hutton ran an Indiana school district.
“We wanted an independent analysis of what we’re doing,” she said. “We are bringing in experts to challenge ourselves.”
Several years ago, Hutton talked to Trump about coming to his district in Valparaiso, Ind., when a student smuggled a machete into the school and then hacked several students during a film in class. Trump came soon after. In the case of that student, there really wasn’t a lot the school could do.
“There was nothing we could do except call a Code Red and keep it contained,” he said.
He liked Trump’s work because he helps school districts make the best plan, then it’s up to the school or, as Trump told him, “Practice it, be disciplined, follow it and you will make good decisions for the children.”
Trump, who inspected the schools on Tuesday, is concerned that people are getting tunnel vision about active shooters because of the Sandy Hook massacre where the assailant shot out the front doors because they were locked.
“Schools and parents started worrying about hardening the front doors, but what’s going on behind the door is what we look at,” he said. The locked doors did delay the shooter “and that helped save many other students in that school,” he said. “If you get tunnel vision about the front door, what about the other 40 doors or windows?” he asked.
“The important part is staff knows what to do. If you can’t execute the plan, you lose that response time that’s very important,” he said. He emphasized schools need announced and unannounced drills. Substitute teachers and parents who volunteer also need to know the drills.
Asked about arming teachers like the National Rifle Association suggested, he was unconvinced, although he supports the Second Amendment and concealed carry in places.
“Teachers want to be armed with computers and books, not guns,” he said. Besides, 40 hours of weapons training does not give someone the instinct to kill, something police officers and military personnel train for their whole lives, he noted.
Trump was asked about the ALICE — Alert-Lockdown-Inform-Counter-Evacuate — plans being peddled that teach students and teachers to try and mob an attacker and try to overwhelm them. The “counter” part is what stops Trump.
“There have been cases where individuals have gone into a school with a gun and authorities were able to de-escalate with no one being hurt,” he said. A counter measure may actually force an intruder into shooting when he or she might not have in the first place.
“You can turn them into a shooter,” he said, “ALICE is a high-risk option that could potentially create greater harm,” Trump said, adding that he rejects it for elementary schools, but it could possibly work in a college or workplace setting.
More serious problems exist when teachers do not greet and challenge people they don’t know walking the hallways and students are convinced by someone outside to open a door to let them in. Trump ran a hard lockdown drill at Woodland Intermediate School this week during lunch time that was unannounced.
“Those are the hardest,” he said, but everyone did well, especially a female custodian who was locking down the cafeteria when the drill was announced.
“She remembered she had just let two students go to the bathroom. She ran and got the students. That tells me you’ve got someone that gets it,” he said, visibly excited about how it turned out.
There was one substitute teacher who thought it was a soft lockdown, but it was a hard lockdown that required doors to be locked. “But they passed the test,” he said.