GLIDE — Law enforcement officers from around Oregon have converged on the Glide middle and high schools this week to help the district make the campuses more secure and safe for the students and faculty.
The National School Shield Training program goes to schools around the country to address security and safety concerns, but local law enforcement must request it.
“This is a free training that they do and they just need hosting agencies to put them on,” said Glide School District’s resource officer Justin Wesie.
The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office asked the National School Shield Training to come to Glide. The sheriff’s office is hosting the training of the law enforcement officers, which at the same time, helps the school district to identify concerns.
The program is funded by the NRA Foundation, so there is no cost to the school district or the law enforcement members that attend. About two dozen officers from different agencies in Oregon have been at the school this week, getting training on what security and safety issues to look for, and combing the school to find areas where they might need improvement.
Darrel Schenck from Kansas, an instructor with National School Shield Training, says the funding comes from donations and grants through the Friends of the NRA Foundation. His organization trains police officers to recognize where they might be susceptible for either safety or security of the students and staff.
“We look at vulnerability assessments to help them better serve their schools and find weaknesses in the overall security from outside in,” Schenk said. “It’s also a way to build the relationships between the law enforcement and the schools in the community.”
Schenck says rural schools like Glide have some different issues than a larger metropolitan school might, but many of the issues are still the same.
“We’re looking for the vulnerabilities concerning doors being locked, lighting, natural barriers, fencing, and procedures that might lead to unsupervised kids, those things in general,” Schrenck said.
He said they also check the school bus dropoff and pickup sites, and talk with bus drivers to see what their concerns are.
After the information is gathered by the class, each of the three groups will do their own assessment of what they found. The final data will be passed on to the school resource officer, who also took part in the training, so he can put together a final report and he can do the presentation to the principal and other school officials.
“It’s confidential information because obviously we’re finding the potential threats, so we don’t want to put it out publicly so the bad people can see it and take advantage of it,” Schenck said.
Wesie says he plans to come back and do another assessment, and address some of the issues in the near future to see what information was utilized and what’s been fixed to better the school.
“The main goal is to get the process started where it creates a safer place, and to identify issues, including all kinds of safety and security with the schools, and make them safer for the students, the staff and the people visiting,” said Wesie.
Principal Kristina Haug first heard about it from Katie Jones, the president of the local Friends of NRA chapter.
The more she learned more about it, the more she felt it would be valuable for the district to do it.
“It’s very rigorous, they’re doing every single part of our campus, our student flow, after-school activities, bus routes morning and night,” she said. “We have had some things in mind, but this is definitely going to help us solidify what things we have to work on.”
The officers will be on campus through Friday and they expect to have the wrap-up assessment available to present to the school administrators then.