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Doubling Down on School Safety (View Video Here) | #schoolsaftey

August 11, 2023
By: Dwayne Page

Doubling down on school safety!

The DeKalb County School District, in cooperation with local law enforcement agencies, have been exercising safety protocols in recent days at the schools to help guard against any possibly future outside threat.

It’s called “Intruder drills” and it is something the state requires local districts to conduct at least once a year. Such drills were conducted Thursday at Smithville Elementary and Northside Elementary School. Similar drills were held Tuesday at DCHS and DeKalb Middle School. Another drill will be next week at DeKalb West School.

According to Joey Reeder, safety director for the DeKalb County School District, the school conducting the “intruder drill” is locked down and local law enforcement officers are called upon to make a walkthrough of the school to make sure all doors are locked. That means greater fortification of schools to make it more difficult for an intruder to enter them. Participating in the drill were members of the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department, Smithville Police Department, and Emergency Management Agency. The Alexandria Police Department is expected to participate with the sheriff’s department at DeKalb West School.

“The new state law says we are to conduct intruder drills at every school but it’s been that way for a few years now,” said Reeder. “In the past we have always done it prior to school starting without students being here but with the Covenant shooting in Nashville and all that’s gone on we felt like, after consulting with our law enforcement people, that maybe it was time we did it with students in the building. Later on, our plan is to maybe do an unannounced drill, where we lock everything down and have law enforcement come in but in a case like that you have to be really careful especially when you’re dealing with smaller kids because you can cause them to become anxious and scared when they really don’t know what’s going on. In the world we are living in today, you never know what could happen so we are doing the best we can to be prepared,” said Reeder.

“Basically, an intruder drill is where our entire school building is locked down and wherever you are at you get in the closest room,” Reeder explained. “If it happens between class changes or lunches, that’s things we’ll have to work on, but if it happens during a normal school day when kids are in class, we lock the doors, get the kids away from the windows and doors, and try to be as quiet as we can. Our teachers have done a tremendous job this week. We have had very few problems. It’s sad we are at this place in the world that we have to keep our doors locked at all times but it’s a new state law that all exterior doors have to be locked and we are encouraging our teachers to keep the interior doors locked also. It causes some aggravation but its another layer of safety. That’s what we are about is trying to keep as many kids, faculty, and staff as safe as we can.”

The intruder drills serve a twofold purpose, according to Reeder, by putting into practice the school safety protocols and by making local law enforcement officers more familiar with the layout of the schools and they were welcome to stop in anytime.

“Our feeling on these drills is that not only does it help our schools but it’s a great deal of help to our law enforcement. Anytime we can get law enforcement in our buildings, walking around we believe that is a good thing and they are more than welcome to come. I don’t care what department they are with, Smithville, Alexandria, Sheriff’s Department, they are welcome in any of our buildings at any time,” said Reeder. “We have a lot of officers who just stop and walk through the building, and we appreciate that. Anytime you go by and see a police car outside a school, we believe it serves as somewhat of a deterrent. Fortunately for years we have always had a tremendous relationship with all the law enforcement agencies, and you can tell that by the crowd of them we had here today,” Reeder continued.

“We did drills at the high school and middle school on Tuesday, and it was amazing to see how many of those officers had children of their own in that school at the time. Most of them have a vested interest with a kid somewhere in school in DeKalb County and anything we want them to do they are always willing to do it. They take a lot of pride in their service and our schools, and we certainly appreciate them for that,” added Reeder.

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