I recently asked a roomful of public safety representatives, educators and other community partners to share with one another why they do the work they do. A common answer quickly rose to the surface: They want to help people.

In the book “Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action,” author Simon Sinek writes that most people can explain what they do within their organizations and workplaces. And many can explain how they do it. But it’s the why that anyone cares about.

This roomful of people could easily agree that, as stewards of public safety and education, the purpose behind our work is to serve others. With that starting point in mind, we gathered at the Public Safety Center in Roseburg on Friday, Oct. 4, to begin the process of improving the what and the how when it comes to ensuring the safety and well-being of our students in Roseburg Public Schools.

The Oct. 4 introductory gathering was the first of the Safer Together meetings that we plan to hold quarterly. Roseburg Public Schools invited over a dozen community agencies and organizations to join us in this journey. At the first meeting, we discussed the need to increase communication and streamline emergency planning and processes; build and deepen relationships; and provide training and practice scenarios.

This community knows all too well the pain of tragedy. Representatives at our meeting pointed out that public safety agencies and other organizations pulled together in the wake of the Oct. 1, 2015, shooting at Umpqua Community College. As a newcomer to this community, I am heartened by the depth of caring and support that has grown out of that devastation.

We can hope that this community will never have to face such adversity again. But we must be prepared for the possibility, whether it takes the form of an active shooter, a devastating earthquake or some other disaster.

What does that look like?

At this introductory meeting, we used the Standard Response Protocol as a jumping-off point. The SRP was developed by The “I Love You Guys” Foundation and is intended to serve as a uniform classroom response to any incident. Steps include the familiar Lockout, Lockdown, Evacuate and Reunify, as well as the Shelter and Hold concepts. Schools across the country, including Roseburg Public Schools, employ these protocols. But as we sadly continue to learn more from each new incident, safety tactics must evolve.

It is paramount that our schools, our police officers and firefighters, our county emergency communications staff and anyone else who would be involved in an incident be on the same page – using the same language and sharing the same expectations. We will look to public safety officials to guide us in this process and help us develop best practices.

As we continue these meetings, we will dig into safety topics, practice scenarios, and provide training and education. But most importantly, we will improve relationships. That will allow us to respond as a unified team. We can get there. And our students will be safer when we do.

I would like to thank everyone who signed on to help make our schools and our community safer: Roseburg Police Department; Roseburg Fire Department: Douglas County Sheriff’s Office; Douglas County Fire District No. 2; Oregon State Police; Bay Cities Ambulance; Umpqua Community College; Douglas County Public Works; Douglas County 911; Douglas Education Service District; The News-Review; Boys & Girls Club of the Umpqua Valley; The Ford Family Foundation; Zolezzi Insurance Agency; Safe Oregon.

Jared Cordon is the superintendent of Roseburg Public Schools

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Without a process which actually searches and removes dangerous weapons from students, staff, and visitors before they get on school property...how can they call what' they're doing preventing school violence?

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