School lock down simulates real thing

B y Christina Scanlon

Lockdown drills at Granville schools last week went well, this time offering education for more than the students.

“We invited other departments,” said Granville Police Sgt. Dave Williams, for an enhanced drill that gave the school and police a better gauge at how a real emergency would be handled.

The Washington County Sheriff’s Emergency Response Team ran the operation. While two role players were given instruction on the scenario, the rest of the officers “went into it blind,” said Williams, which gave the group a much more realistic approach.

In a true emergency, all law enforcement agencies would be alerted. While the village department would likely be the first on the scene, other departments that are not so familiar with the school would arrive, as well.

The drill gave those departments a chance to learn the lay of the school and work a scene with officers they may not know.

Wednesday afternoon, having conducted similar drills at Mary J. Tanner and Granville Elementary, officers gathered outside the high school. The role players established themselves in a location in the school.

Officers only knew the drill involved a person with a weapon in the school.

They entered, with the school now on lockdown.

The drill served several purposes. It gave the school an idea where their weaknesses or mistakes were made in conducting the lockdown, as the SERT members checked doors and other security measures.

School superintendent Mark Bessen said some mistakes on the school’s part were found.

“It’s an improvement over last year,” he said. “This is why we do these. This is how we learn.”

Students were required to stay in their classrooms as if the drill was real.

Officers had to make their way to the scene of the emergency, with limited information, and subdue the subjects.

After the exercise, they met for a briefing of what went well and what needed improvement.

Granville officers were joined by members of the Whitehall Police Department, SUNY Albany University Police, state Dept. of Environmental Conservation, Washington County Sheriff’s Office and Washington County Sheriff’s dispatchers.

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