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Years After School Shootings, Springfield Schools More Prepared

It’s been 10 years since the school shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado, and two years since the shootings at Virginia Tech. Local security officials say Springfield schools have learned lessons from each of these incidents, and are much safer than they were before these shootings happened. KSMU’s Kristian Kriner reports.

Since the shootings at Columbine and Virginia Tech, local university and high school administrators say they’re constantly looking for new ways to improve the safety of their schools.

Tom Tucker is the director of Springfield Public Schools’ police services.

He says before Columbine, police would surround a school with officers and wait for a SWAT team to come and go after the active shooter.

“And now, no longer would we sit back and wait while we hear shooting going on in one of our schools. We would actually go in and try to take care and neutralize the situation,” Tucker said.Tucker says now the police work with school security on what to do in such situations.

He says teachers and students practice intruder drills where they lock the doors, turn out the lights and hide in the corner.

“I think school shootings will always be around for a variety of reasons, but there will always be those people that will come to schools to take out their vengeance or their feelings on the people there at a school and maybe with somebody that’s completely innocent with who their dealing with,” Tucker said.

Tucker says the administration has added more security cameras to every school in Springfield.

Security officials at Drury University say the shooting at Virginia Tech had the same effect on colleges as Columbine had on high schools.

Sarene Deeds, director of safety and security at Drury, says since 33 people died at at Virginia Tech, the private school has implemented several new safety alerts on campus.“We’ve implemented a mass notification system, a siren. We’ve placed a siren on campus in case of an active shooter incident threat. We also have e-mail of course, a mass e-mail system. We have DENA, which is Drury Emergency Notification Alert system that is on our website for the different levels of threat,” Deeds said.

She says the university also sends out text messages to all of the students in an emergency.

Deeds says there are instructions in every room on campus that tells students and teachers what to do in the event of a shooting.

In addition, she says Drury recently added another counselor to help students deal with their anger safely.

“We also added another counselor to our staff here at Drury, because I think one of the best ways to prevent a crisis is to be proactive and deal with maybe students at risk or staff or faculty that could be having issues or might be at risk,” Deeds said.

She says she knows that some things can’t be prevented, but when it comes to safety there’s always room for improvement.

For KSMU News, I’m Kristian Kriner.