CRUHSD board hears from police chief about active-shooter response – Mohave Valley News
BULLHEAD CITY — Chain of command, conflicts of interest and combatting school violence were among topics discussed Monday during the meeting of the Colorado River Union High School District board.
Bullhead City Police Chief Brian Williamson spoke to the board about the department’s response plan for active-shooter situations.
Protocol is not to wait to see what a potential shooter plans on doing and form a response, because lives are at stake — even if it’s a situation that only seems like an armed encounter.
“We’re going to dump as many people on a situation as we can,” he explained. “The expectation is to go in when you get there.”
Such suspects often choose to back down when confronted by law enforcement. Time is of the essence because an active shooter can shoot one person about every 15 seconds, Williamson said.
After that is making sure the situation is indeed over and to protect everyone at the school.
A recovery phase begins as school personnel are given the go-ahead to begin organizing a safe environment for students and their families to reunite. Williamson said this likely would be set up at a location separate from where the incident occurred.
Investigation and interviews might begin at this point but could occur later.
“We eventually have to talk to teachers about what was going on,” he explained.
Williamson then emphasized that prevention is as important as the initial response and follow up.
“Most of the time the shooting takes five minutes,” he said. The most important goal is to “eliminate the threat.”
Training on local school campuses goes a long way, and occurs regularly.
Securing a campus so a potential shooter can’t carry out their intentions is key. The ability to lockdown a campus fast and effectively can eliminate targets a would-be school shooter wants.
Williamson also pointed out that it’s crucial that people report to police when they know about students and others who voice or otherwise express threats of violence, even when someone does it online.
Letting law enforcement know can prevent the act from occurring, Williamson stressed.
Recent examples are when a youth made threats on Snapchat and when another wrote them on a sidewalk using chalk.
School resource officers and school staff play integral roles in prevention of such acts.
The district needs to train more employees to be able to assess threats of this nature, said Superintendent Benje Hookstra.
“Violence is not a snap judgment,” Williamson added.
Board member Richard Cardone had asked for a security presentation. He initially said at the meeting that it didn’t appear to be what he asked for at the board’s meeting in January but remarked that it answered many of his questions.
Cardone asked for information about metal detectors and wands as well as concealed firearm carry rules for teachers.
Board members wanted to discuss decisions about conflicts of interest that might exist when members have relatives working for the district.
CRUHSD Board member Kerry Burgess’s brother, Kory Burgess, is a high school teacher in the district. Kory Burgess also is a member of the Bullhead City Elementary School Board.
It turns out that most conflicts are related to spouses. State law stipulates that it’s unlawful for a board member to vote on “appointment, employment or remuneration” of a spouse or dependent, reported Board President Lori Crampton.
- Took advice from an Arizona School Board Association attorney about how to conduct future board meetings. Staff members no longer will provide verbal reports to the board because they answer to the superintendent. Board member Donna Williamson said board members shouldn’t be asking employees questions during these meetings. The questions should be given to the superintendent to present outside of these meetings.
- Heard a presentation from Ed Catalfamo, the new general manager of the Anderson Auto Group Fieldhouse. An open house for the new facility is scheduled for March 2 at 10 a.m. Cardone asked for a full listing of project costs. He also asked that because the high schools were going to hold graduations at the fieldhouse for the first time that a dignitary be secured to speak, such as “the governor or lieutenant governor,” he said.
- Approved a superintendent recruiting document with only one minor change: Where River Valley High School is located.
- Approved an agreement for services by an executive recruiter to find a new superintendent.