‘We’re just more prepared than ever’

D-2 ready for any incident, security personnel say

Shortly before 8 a.m. on Dec. 5, just as Harrison High School students were gearing up to start their academic day, a staff member spotted a loaded pistol magazine abandoned in a corridor.

What was supposed to be a normal academic day immediately turned into a less-than-typical morning spent on lockout. That meant the students were sequestered to their classrooms while the building, campus and teens themselves were searched.

No one was injured, nor was the pistol immediately recovered, but for now-retired Harrison School District Two security chief John Taylor, the day went by the book.

“We responded, the Colorado Springs Police Department responded, we did a thorough search of the school,” he said.

“The process is in place and it worked really well,” added Bob Erspamer, Taylor’s successor at the head of the D-2 security team.

School safety is an understandably sensitive subject. But when there is a reason to be vigilant, a pre-existing plan, good inter-agency coordination and plenty of training can help keep an alert from becoming a crisis.

“When you talk about security, it’s not two guys, four guys, 11 guys,” Taylor said. “It’s a whole adult world out there.”

Both Taylor and Erspamer are former police officers, and with their help and expertise, the district has developed, implemented and trained on an emergency response plan.

“We always end our training by saying ‘You don’t want to scare people, we’re just more prepared than ever,’ ” Erspamer said. “Your students are way, way, way safer in school than they are outside.”

The district observes three levels of emergency response: lockout, lockdown and evacuate to a location. When Harrison high went into lockout in December, the students stayed put for about four hours while security personnel and police searched the campus, inside and out. Communications Director and Chief of Staff Christine O’Brien said the all-hands-on-deck approach served Harrison and its students well.

“A lot of homework and studying was accomplished,” she said.

Admittedly, the lockout was an extreme scenario. But keeping students safe is a daily undertaking.


Your students are way, way, way safer in school than they are outside. 
— Bob Erspamer, Harrison School District 2 school and safety director

All district buildings are monitored by cameras and radios, and a team of 13 security officers partners with a trio of city police resource officers to keep campuses as protected as possible.

In addition, O’Brien said, the district implemented the Raptor system in each school. The digital system, which requires every guest to present a photo ID, allows campus staff to screen for registered sex offenders, check for custody issues, coordinate volunteers and respond to emergencies. It also gives administration an accounting of all guests who are in a building at any point in time, O’Brien said.

On any given day, Erspamer said, the security team could deal with a barrage of issues, from traffic snarls to behavioral problems.

“We’re busy every single day,” he said.

regan.foster@southeastexpress.org

DOING YOUR PART

Harrison School District 2 utilizes a variety of media to keep parents in the loop about school safety incidents or weather-related events. To ensure that you are getting the most up-to-date information related to your student’s school, take the following steps:

For school-specific alerts:

• Contact the school registrar and make sure he or she has your most current email address and telephone number on file. That’s because, in the event of an incident, the district will text and email updates.

• Follow the district and your child’s school on social media outlets.

For weather alerts:

• Download the free Harrison School District Two app, available in more than 65 languages, from either the Apple Store or Google Play.

• Follow the district on social media outlets.

• Check the district and school websites.

• Tune in to local media.

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