Photo by Al Seib
Intruder Drills- Are They Really a Solution?
December 4, 2019
Every year, thousands of students across the nation hide in closets, barricade doors, and prepare to throw their water bottles, but this is no child’s play. These students are participating in intruder drills. A few weeks ago, the Clayton School District held theirs.
“An intruder has entered the building,” says Mrs. Roz over the intercom at the front desk. Every period, the students and their teacher will then talk about what they would do in this circumstance, discussing ways to hide, escape, or combat the intruder from their classroom.
These drills are mandatory in Missouri as well as teacher training. “We’re required to give so many hours of training to our staff. And then, we are required to do drills throughout the year as well,” says superintendent Dr. Doherty.
The active shooter and active shooter response statute issued in 2013 outlines specifically how the drills and training should be enacted. One detail it lists is that teachers must go through formal training each year, the first training session being eight hours long, and the proceeding ones four hours. “The training has changed a little bit over the years… when they first started doing the training it was more about hiding, and now it is ‘the three E’s: engage, evade, escape’, so it’s about getting out of the situation versus just hiding,” Dr. Doherty adds. “There’s two types of training. One is online… basically like a tutorial or an online course that [the teachers] take around safety in schools. And then the other component of that, is an active shooter training. That is when the police officers from Clayton come and facilitate a kind of training and give [the teachers] information, talk about ‘the [three] e’s’… The last couple years, they have actually done a simulation where they have a cap gun that goes off, and the teachers have to figure out what to do.”
“It is jarring for teachers to have to go through that, but it’s our responsibility to make sure we’re taking care of the students,” Doherty said.
When it comes to the impact of these intruder drills on students, Doherty says, “It’s disappointing that we have to have our students have this kind of worry… It’s this yes it’s the right thing to do, but there’s a sadness to it.”
But Missouri isn’t the strictest of states when it comes to preparing for an intruder. In a conference, Dr. Doherty found that Florida took the preparations much further, “One of the other superintendents, in Florida, was saying that he was having to figure out how to arm a teacher at his school because it was required to have an armed person, and he couldn’t get a police officer… We are not feeling that that is a good practice to put guns in teachers’ hands.”
Is all this preparation, the drills, the training, the armed teachers, even an adequate response to the school shootings? Freshman, Ivy Reed thinks not.
“Intruder drills are absolutely not a solution. The solution will be implementing stricter gun laws, and the only reason the government refuses to do that is because they’re in the pocket of the NRA,” Reed said.
In March 2018, shortly after the Parkland Shooting, the STOP School Violence Act was passed, putting an annual $50 million fund towards teacher training. No form of gun control was mentioned in this bill. However Reed believes it is essential.
“Gun control is necessary because weak gun laws cause an unsafe and violent society. I believe nobody is entitled to unregulated gun ownership… To me, gun reform means requiring background checks, regulating ammunition, banning assault weapons, requiring licenses for both firearm dealers and gun owners, and making concealed carry illegal. Missouri does none of those things.”
Missouri has no restrictions on guns. A background check or permit is not required to purchase a firearm, and local law enforcement cannot regulate it. Representative Jered Taylor explains why.
“I am a big supporter of the Second Amendment and an individual’s right to own and bear firearms. I think that we should be able to defend ourselves wherever we go… we should be able to protect ourselves and our family,” Taylor said.
Taylor does not think gun control is the answer.
“I am opposed to restrictions on the Second Amendment. It’s not the gun’s fault. You’re blaming the weapon rather than the individual who committed the crime.”
Instead, Taylor proposed a different solution.
“I have sponsored legislation to allow teachers to get additional training and to be certified to carry in their schools. I do think that ensuring that we have individuals that are at the school to stop it is the best way… A lot of the times why these individuals pick schools or these gun free zones is because they know that they’re not going to be stopped. If we can deter them, if they think teachers in this school are probably carrying, they’re probably not going to take out their attack.”
Whatever the solution, everyone can agree that something needs to be done to prevent these shootings from happening.
“We’re the only generation that has to sit in class and worry that someone is going to come in and try to kill us with a gun,” says Reed.
“Schools should be a place where kids walk in the door and not have to worry about their safety. Our teachers walking in and not having to worry about safety,” concludes Doherty, “Our focus should be on learning and exploring and not worried about something happening.”