News Section: Local Government
School Board Briefed on Shooting Crisis Plan
BRADENTON – At Tuesday's workshop, the Manatee School Board was given information on a new emergency plan for shooting crises that was presented mostly by District Director of Construction Services Jane Dreger and Lieutenant Morrell of the Manatee Sheriff's Deparment.
Though the current draft of the plan goes over weather-related emergencies for schools in the district, the presentation focused on how an active shooter crisis should be handled by law enforcement and schools.
Lieutenant Morrell told the board that a meeting took place with stakeholders from Manatee County, EMS, firefighters and law enforcement agencies on school emergency planning, and that a first responder plan to an active shooting crisis on district property is in the process of being put together.
"We want to change the culture," Morrell said, of how such a scenario would be handled. Morrell remarked that the Columbine shooting served as an important learning experience, noting that lives were lost during the time police officers waited for SWAT to arrive at the school after they had been made aware of the shooters.
To stop a shooter in such a scenario, Morrell advised that the first two or three officers onsite "that feel comfortable going in and engaging the shooter" would be the first responders. "We'd step over bodies, and go to where the sound is coming from. That's our mission ... because (the shooter's) mission is to take lives."
Emphasizing the importance of getting staff at every school on the same page as to how to address a shooting with preparation and practice, Morrell noted the commonality of fire drills as opposed to practicing how to handle an active shooter. Dregler told the board that the response to a shooting situation would be uniform at each school "with very minor individual customizations."
Morrell said that the plan is still being revised, with more meetings taking place during April, as well as during the summer.
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