History teacher Ethan Sabine holds his hands up after his classroom is cleared during an active shooter drill at Pleasanton High School on Monday. It is part of active shooter protocol to treat everyone as a suspect until they are cleared at the command post. (Photos by Sandra Haynes, Linn County Sheriff's Office)
PLEASANTON – Pleasanton High School classrooms went into lockdown mode on Monday, April 18, when the school became the site of an active shooter drill. Organized by Linn County Sheriff’s Deputy Chip More, the school resource officer (SRO) for the Pleasanton USD 344 schools, the drills brought together law enforcement officers and first responders from across the area.
The exercise happened on a snow make-up day for the district’s teachers and staff, and they remained involved in the activity for much of the day. Although students were out of school on Monday, several students volunteered to come in and participate.
Sandra Haynes, spokesperson for the Linn County Sheriff’s Office, said that agencies involved in the exercise included the Pleasanton Police Department, firefighters from both the Pleasanton and Prescott stations, employees with the American Medical Rescue (AMR, the county’s ambulance service), as well as other members of the sheriff’s office.
Starting at 8 a.m., the drill had students and teachers barricading themselves and students in the classroom. Law enforcement personnel then conducted their sweep in effort to find the active shooter.
Once it was determined that the threat had been eliminated, officers went to clear each classroom. But it proved to be more difficult than that, according to Haynes.
Those participating in the drill included, front row from left, Lewis Aloi, AMR; Chip More, Pleasanton SRO; Melissa Shroyer, school nurse; Angie Mitchell, La Cygne SRO; Jeff Wisdom, Pleasanton Rural Fire; second row, Austin Pinkerton, Luke Coyer and Chief Tristan Snyder, Pleasanton Police Department; Bryan Shroyer, Prescott Fire; Warren Flores, Pleasanton Rural Fire; and Keith Bloomfield and Robert Mills, AMR.
Teachers wouldn’t open the door unless they could be convinced that the officer outside the door was the real thing. That was part of the training, said Haynes, adding that a shooter might try to convince a teacher that it was all clear.
She said officers would walk down the hallways calling out that all was clear, trying to lure teachers to open the door. But teachers had instructions not to do so unless they were sure it was actually safe.
Once the classroom doors were opened, teachers and students were required to walk out with hands in the air to the control center to be cleared before being released, Haynes said.
At noon, all of the participants gathered in the school cafeteria to eat and then discuss what went right with the drill – and what went wrong. She said that all the different groups of people involved in the drill contributed breaking down the drill.
“There was always something we could improve on,” Haynes said. She added that, no matter well prepared every one is, things never go by the book in an active shooter situations.
She commended Deputy More for setting up the exercise, noting that SROs across the county are always working to make schools safer.