District 211 Staff, Local Police Practice ‘Active Shooter’ Drills on Institute Day

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The Palatine Police Department responded to Palatine High School's active shooter drill on April 8. Schaumburg and Hoffman Estates police departments ran a drill at Schaumburg High School the same day.

The Palatine Police Department responded to Palatine High School’s active shooter drill on April 8. Schaumburg and Hoffman Estates police departments ran a drill at Schaumburg High School the same day.

While Township High School District 211 has educated and trained staff about what to do in emergency situations, staff worked with local police to practice a hard lockdown scenario as if an armed intruder entered the building, complete with sounds of gunshots.

The Hoffman Estates, Palatine, and Schaumburg Police Departments coordinated efforts with District 211 to practice active shooter drills within school buildings. Schaumburg and Palatine High Schools were used as training sites while no students were present at the buildings on April 8 because of Institute Day.

“Twice a year our drills include active participation from the local police departments and our school staff,” said Daniel Cates, associate superintendent of administrative services at District 211. “Those drills have become very proficient, and our staff has developed skills that are right where we would like them to be. These active shooter drills, in coordination with the police, afford both organizations an opportunity to examine what realistically happens specifically within the first 30 seconds of an event starting.”

Local police coordinated with District 211 to run an active shooter drill at two high schools. Squad cars and a crime scene investigation team are parked outside of Palatine High School. No students were present for the drill.

Squad cars and a crime scene investigation team are parked outside of Palatine High School during the training. No students were present for the drill.

To eliminate concern within the community, District 211 first notified parents and members of the Palatine and Schaumburg of the drill so they would not be alarmed if they saw law enforcement vehicles outside the schools. Police training teams used firearms with training ammunition, or blanks, to simulate what gunshots sound like in a school building. Just as if they were intruders, police acted out events that could happen in real life.

The purpose of the exercise was to prepare staff for any scenario. The benefit of the drill was not just for staff in the event of an emergency, but also for police response teams to practice their protocols in a school-shooting situation. In light of unfortunate events that have occurred across the nation, such as the recent Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, District 211 wants to provide the best resources for its employees to handle a changing society.

“We’re all aware of unfortunate events that have happened nationally, and they can happen anywhere, including schools,” Cates said. “Although we cannot guarantee that an incident or crisis won’t ever occur, we can put forth every conscientious effort possible to prepare our staff to limit the damage that could occur if an event were to start.”

After the drill, staff gathered in Palatine and Schaumburg High School gymnasiums for a Q & A session where they had the opportunity to review the drill and ask police questions. Without the collaboration and partnership with local police departments, the open forum and trainings would not be possible.

“All of our police departments do a fantastic job, and our partnership with them is invaluable,” Cates said. “We couldn’t do so much of what we do without their assistance. Their partnership, particularly in crisis, is remarkable, consistent, and a great service to our students, staff, and community.”