Since the beginning of the school year, Ontario Christian Schools in Ontario, California, has taken steps to increase security at their school buildings. “Improving security was ongoing, but definitely became a priority after the San Bernardino shooting in December of 2015,” said Tim Hoekstra, high school principal.
“As the systems administrator for the school, the only security I knew anything about was IT security,” said Darin Slocum, the school’s director of security. “When I was appointed to this task, my first priority was to bring in people more knowledgeable than me as to how best to increase the security footprint at our schools. I met with a few private security firms, parents who were in law enforcement, and finally our local police department who sent out detective, a sergeant, and a SWAT officer to assess our schools. Their provided lengthy reports detailing what they believe needed to be done. To date, each of those recommendations has been implemented.”
Those recommendations included remodeling of the schools’ entries and the addition of security gates for better monitoring, and 65 security cameras now keep a watchful eye on all corners of the campuses. Redesigned offices at all the school campuses have increased security of both the school’s data and personnel. Each building has identification lettering both around the walls and with reflective material on the roof for police/SWAT identification, each classroom has a peephole, and teachers are equipped with two-way radios.
All faculty and staff have undergone active shooter training led by ALICE Training, and the schools have conducted lockdown and evacuation drills. “The training was both potent and sobering,” said Slocum. “Yet it was also a time to come together, realizing the preparations we were making were for the betterment of our entire community.”
Another addition: a group of trained parent volunteers provide safety at all school events, being alert to possible issues. “Parents have been wonderfully supportive and encouraging because they realize that the reason the school is making this investment of thousands of dollars [about $175,000] is to better protect those precious children that they have entrusted to us,” said Slocum. “The more that we have done to increase security, the more parents have been appreciative and eager to get involved.”