For those who drove by West Greene Jr.-Sr. High School on Nov. 10 and witnessed a wide array of law enforcement vehicles and officers flanking the building, there was no need to worry something was wrong.
School District Police Officer Jared Edgreen coordinated a mock lockdown drill at the Jr.-Sr. High School building, working with the school district’s administration and receiving assistance from State Police at Waynesburg, Greene County Regional Police, Greene County Sheriff’s Office, the county’s emergency management agency and local volunteer fire companies.
Edgreen said the teachers and students were “aware and well-informed” of the drill, and parents were notified beforehand that the exercise was taking place. He said the ultimate goal of the drill was to see how those in the building would react and respond to reports of an intruder on the premises.
Edgreen had his father, Jerry Edgreen, wore a bright yellow shirt with the word “Intruder” written on the front and back. They walked the hallways, while the staff, faculty and law enforcement officers enforced and followed specific safety and security protocol and guidelines.
The drill lasted a short period of time, but Edgreen said he hopes everyone inside the building while the mock lockdown was going on remembers the message behind the exercise.
“We’ve held multiple trainings for drills such as this for our teachers and staff, but I felt it was important to present a mock version of an actual event,” he said. “Trainings are one thing, but when you add elements of stress that could create tunnel vision, delayed motor skills, auditory perception and much more, it changes everything.”
The school district held a similar drill two years ago and training sessions have been routinely held since, but Edgreen felt it was important to stage another drill, especially since the school district has dramatically upgraded its security initiative over the past year or so. The upgrades were paid for through local and state funding.
Following the Nov. 10 drill, Jr.-Sr. High School principal Scott Sakai and school district Superintendent Brian Jackson said they watched the drill take place and were impressed.
“The procedure went very well,” Sakai said. “It didn’t take any time for authorities to locate the ‘intruder’ and our security system was spot-on. Communication was efficient and it was obvious that the district’s security upgrades were effective.”
Sakai said he believes the drill was beneficial because it empowered teachers and students with knowledge and awareness.
“It used to be, that teachers and students would be generally told to hide in a corner during an incident, but by providing them with drills, skills and effective protocol that kind of thinking no longer exists,” Sakai said.
Jackson commended the staff, students and law enforcement officers for working together in the exercise.
“Everybody handled the drill appropriately,” he said. “Now we will review all aspects of the mock lockdown and see what was effective, what worked and what improvements, if any, need to be made for future drills.”
Jackson said the teachers are “really invested” in the process.
“They are always deeply concerned about their students, not just in their education but in their safety as well,” he said. “It truly takes a team effort to keep our students safe, and I feel very confident in the policies, procedures and protocols that are in place to do just that.”
Edgreen said it is that commitment of teamwork that is more valuable than any security system when it comes to the students’ safety.
“We could invest millions of dollars in an upgraded, state-of-the-art security system, but nothing is more important than the eyes and ears of our teachers, staff and administration,” he said. “And when you also factor in the efforts of local law enforcement, fire companies and emergency management, it’s obvious that we’re all working together for the same goal.”
On Nov. 13, Edgreen said he had a chance to review surveillance footage of the drill, and he was impressed with what he saw.
“It was important to see everyone’s reactions when the drill was going on, and how authority figures problem-solved in a stressful situation,” he said. “I’m happy to say that they exceeded my expectations.”