JPD works on lockdown drill at West Jasper school
by Briana Webster
Oct 04, 2013 | 1716 views | 0 0 comments | 33 33 recommendations | email to a friend | print
West Jasper Elementary School Principal Rita Pilling made a quick two-word announcement over the intercom Thursday morning that suddenly had teachers turning off their lights, pulling straggling children out of the hallways and into classrooms, and locking their doors behind them.

A number of Jasper City police officers spread throughout the school banging on doors and checking locks.

This was only a drill. However, if the school would have had an actual lockdown, it still would be in good shape. Pilling said her school has been preparing for several drills since the second week of school this fall.

“We have a schedule where we do a lot of different drills, from fire to tornado to our lockdown drills. We do a lock-down drill at least a couple of times every semester,” Pilling said. “We’ll probably have four to five this year. We have a minimum number of drills we’re required to do but if we see the need, we do more than whatever the minimum is.” 

With the mass shootings that have occurred throughout recent years, many businesses, schools and institutions have beefed up their security. Reviewing and practicing drills, such as the one Thursday, helps students, faculty and staff to avoid chaotic situations.

“We feel like practicing keeps everyone calm if there actually was an emergency. It was an unannounced drill, and I think they did wonderful,” Pilling said. “All teachers and students were aware of what was going on and they followed the procedures. They did a great job; even when the police officers went to the door and said a word that was not the key code word, the teachers were aware of that and they responded in the appropriate way.” 

Police pounded doors with their fists and even made statements saying, “This is the police. Open up!” Teachers and students remained silent and didn’t budge only until they heard the code word. They would then slide a piece of paper under the door that stated “Everyone inside is safe.” 

“It went really, really good. Everybody did great,” Sgt. Tommy Hood said about the drill. “It went really well.” Hood and four other members of the Jasper City Police Department checked every door that led into classrooms, offices, the gym and lunchroom, outside and even closets. But, safety is the key issue when it comes to students.

“We have to be prepared for any type of emergency situation. Our No. 1 goal in our schools is to keep students safe,” Pilling said. “Safety is our priority.”