GUY — Guy-Perkins students and faculty participated in an active-killer lockdown drill Thursday to ensure the district is prepared in the event the campus is threatened.
Students and faculty were not notified prior to the drill so administrators and law enforcement could “truly test our readiness” should someone come on campus threatening the lives of students and faculty, Shade Gilbert, Guy-Perkins superintendent, said. He further stated a warning notice was not issued so that students would take the drill more seriously, allowing administrators and law enforcement to effectively evaluate the school’s preparedness in an active killer situation.
Shortly after 10:30 a.m., an all-call went out announcing an “active shooter” was on campus and instructed the faculty to go into lockdown mode.
“We want to be direct about it so that everyone can react quickly,” Gilbert said as he stood against the wall in Principal Karen Hoskins’s office during the lockdown. All lights were turned off, windows were covered and doors were locked.
The Guy Police Department brought in Greenbrier’s K-9 unit along with a handful of Faulkner County Sheriff’s Office reserve deputies to assess the school during the training.
Guy Police Chief Chris Humphrey and Officer Michael Alsup attended retired Lt. Col. Dave Grossman’s “Bulletproof Mind” seminar at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s Criminal Justice Institute on Tuesday.
Humphrey said while at the training he and his department learned the “active shooter” terminology is switching to “active killer.” The terminology has shifted as the means to harm students and faculty on a campus have breached further from shootings to include explosives, vehicular harm and stabbings.
“It takes away from the term that all shootings are bad,” Humphrey said as he explained the reasoning behind the new wording. “[Officers] shoot all the time on the range whereas when these people come into [a school] they’re not just shooting, they’re killing.”
Grossman, a Pulitzer-nominated author, is an internationally recognized speaker who has become an expert on human aggression and violent crimes. Grossman is also director of Killology Research Group and studies destructive acts across the globe, determining what factors enable and restrain killing.
“Several tips and pointers [from Grossman’s seminar] were used today as far as what to watch out and look for,” Humphrey said following Thursday’s drill.
Keeping the training day a “secret” from students and faculty allowed local law enforcement to assess the school’s ability to react just as they would in a real-time killer scenario, Humphrey said.
Gilbert said Guy-Perkins is upgrading its security systems across campus and on its buses.
In keeping safety in mind, he said he wanted to host the active killer training for students and faculty to see how prepared members of the school district were and improve where needed.
“In my mind, I go back to Sandy Hook,” he said. “They did everything right and it was still terrible. All we can do is learn from that and get better. That’s why we have these drills, to see where we fall short and see where we can do better.”
Although police responded within minutes of the first 911 call, 20 children were killed during the Dec. 14, 2012, Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. The shooting prompted gun control debates across the U.S.
Thursday’s lockdown drill was the first active killer training at Guy-Perkins this year. A debriefing between administrators and law enforcement was held immediately after the lockdown concluded to determine how faculty could better react and keep students safe.
“It was excellent,” Humphrey said of the school’s preparedness. “I’m very proud to say I didn’t note any gross safety violations. Of course, there’s always room for improvement, but I would expect nothing less.”
Just before the lockdown drill went into effect, an ambulance was called to the school for unrelated reasons.
Students were kept inside as the ambulance was brought to the front of the building. An employee was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital for a possible allergic reaction to a medication she had taken earlier that day.
“We didn’t want to cause any unnecessary alarm, so we kept the students inside and held off on the lockdown for a bit,” Gilbert said.
Hoskins said she was thankful for the officers and deputies who came out for the active killer lockdown Thursday.
“Our students’ and teachers’ safety is our No. 1 concern,” she said.