Preparation to deal with an Active Shooter
By Gilbert Hoffman
GALENA PARK – In the aftermath of the terrible murders at a school in Uvalde, parents and students have been concerned about safety and security as they prepare to return to schools in August.
In the Galena Park school district, school safety is a top priority, with the district police department trained and equipped to handle emergencies such as active shooters.
In an interview with this newspaper, GPISD police chief Bryan Clements outlined the safety measures enacted through all the schools. In addition, the yearly simulation drill was broadcast live on local television station KPRC channel 2, with an interview with Cathy Hernandez, a Galena Park graduate.
Clements said that for a number of years, armed officers have been assigned to each middle and high school, and that this year the GPISD trustees have increased the number of police officers from 21 to 40, with the hiring of an additional 19 positions. This number provides an officer for each school, from K through high school.
Clements said that all the officers are put through rigorous training, and once a year have an 8- hour class session and drill regarding how to suppress an active shooter.
Safety and security routines are also part of each schools daily routine, Clements said. Officers and school staff are instructed that all outside doors must be locked, and classroom doors also locked during class. Officers are instructed to check each door throughout the day for compliance.
Schools are also equipped for this type of active shooter emergency, with a ballistic shield and medical equipment stocked and available at every school.
The Safety Drill was available to see on television, Clements said, because it is important for families to see that students will be protected when they come to school.
As part of the active shooter training, officers found injured victims in a hallway of the North Shore 10th Grade Center. The officers went straight to a classroom where two pretend shooters were with students. The police chief said they had three priorities: stop the killing, stop the dying, and evacuate the injured.
Clements said the simulation training gives the officers a unique learning experience in stressful situations. He said he wants his officers to know what to do if a situation arises such as a shooter.
The training was open to the public to see, in person and on television. Participating were local fire and EMS personnel, and law enforcement agencies including Constables from Pct. 2 and 3.
Galena Park Superintendent Dr. John Moore had this to say about the training: “Students come to our schools to learn, but parents expect us to keep them safe. And that’s our number one priority here in Galena Park, and I’m sure that’s the number one priority all over the United States.”
The first day of school will be August 11, and it can be expected to be a safe and secure opening.