By Dan Spalding
WARSAW — A first-of-its-kind local gathering of emergency responders and educators concluded Wednesday afternoon, June 8, at the Orthopaedic Capital Center in Winona Lake.
The sole goal for the day was to see all of the public school districts and law enforcement from across Kosciusko County working together on a coordinated strategy for an active school shooter situation.
The meeting focused on scenarios involving potential active shooters but started with the basics like what to do first when school receives a bomb threat.
Much of the meeting detailed scenarios for each phase of an active shooter incident – essentially before, during and after. Attendees were grouped together so that educators would be seated with law enforcement located near their school districts.
Kosciusko County Emergency Management Agency Director Ed Rock was elated afterward while sitting in the center’s convocation room.
For many, it was the first time for educators and law enforcement to come together for an in-depth discussion, Rock said.
“Overall, it was a fantastic day of discussion,” Rock said.
He said he believes schools will alter some of their policies and that law enforcement may consider additional training.
“This is basically the school’s issues, but we need to have everybody on the same page on how we’re going to respond to the school issues,” Rock said.
Dr. David Robertson, the assistant superintendent and director of school safety for Warsaw Community Schools, was a member of the planning team that put together Wednesday’s event.
The school district issued a statement shortly after the event ended.
“Today was a great day for school safety in Kosciusko County. We are blessed to have such engaged partners in the law enforcement, and fire and rescue communities,” Robertson said. “Student safety is a top priority in Kosciusko County and we took many steps forward today in ensuring that our county will respond effectively to a school-based event.”
Opening remarks of the meeting referenced the recent school massacre in Texas that killed 21 students and staff.
There were 19 school shootings in the first five months of the year, killing 20 and wounding 33, according to information at the meeting.
“That’s why we’re here today. We’re here because we have to get better,” said Doug Light, a deputy with the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Office who is assigned to Wawasee Middle School and North Webster Elementary as a school resource officer.