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Deputy outlines new shooter protocol for Sauvie Island Academy

Recommendation for children has changed from lock-down to run away, if possible


by: SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: ROBIN JOHNSON - Multnomah County Sheriff's Deputy Joe Graziano highlighted the importance of a Threat Assessment Management team for schools, geared toward sweeping facilities for potential human and nonhuman threats as well as developing action plans for potential threats.A Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office deputy gave a presentation Wednesday, Jan. 22, to Sauvie Island Academy staff, teachers, administrators and parents on how to respond in the event a shooter entered the school.

Law enforcement tactics and recommended protocol for responding to a shooter have changed drastically in recent years, said deputy Joe Graziano.

Sauvie Island Academy Executive Director Darla Meeuwsen said in an earlier interview with the Spotlight one of the major changes to shooter protocol is the recommendation that those who have the opportunity to escape should do just that.

In earlier cases, students and teachers were instructed to “lock down” and remain in their classrooms.

Now, “If you can get out, you should get out,” Meeuwsen said.

Graziano showed multiple news coverage videos shootings of school shootings, highlighting the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School in Colorado in which 12 students and one teacher were murdered.

“Looking back, the teacher has them hiding under the desks,” Graziano said. “There were kids that died there, they could’ve ran away and lived to tell about this, but they died hiding under the table. That’s not the right thing to do, but back then ... this is kind of what we did.”

Prior to going into the details of shooter protocol, Graziano explained that the chances of losing a child in such scenarios are very unlikely.

“Based on [Federal Bureau of Investigation] statistics ... a child being killed by an active shooter in a school are odds of about one in a million,” Graziano explained.

Current protocol calls for a hierarchy of tactics. If caught in an active shooter scenario, Graziano said those in danger should run. If running is too risky, the next recommendation is to hide in a secure location and quietly call 911. As a last resort, Graziano said to fight with improvised weapons.

Graziano called specific attention to the school’s location on Sauvie Island, detached from many emergency services.

“Just talking with the principal here, right away I was thinking about that bridge.” Graziano said. “That bridge is your only way in or out, so being able to be self-sustaining for a while, that’s going to be a huge thing.”

Meeuwsen said the school is in the process of considering reunification sites for potential emergency situations.

“We’re looking at local agencies if you can’t get off the island, like the fire department, grange or church,” she said, adding that the reunification sites will be equipped with boxes containing current student information to account for any missing children.

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