After a slew of school attacks led by crazed shooters in the last decade, two years ago CPS decided to change its policy regarding intruders to the ALICE system. ALICE, an acronym for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate instructs students to flee the school if possible, barricade classrooms and arm themselves with possible weapons in the case of an intruder.
“Before, students were instructed to stay in their classrooms and hide under their desks. But, then, people realized that this was actually more dangerous because the students were sitting ducks,” RBHS resource officer Keisha Edwards said. “Now, we instruct students to try and leave the building if they can. Otherwise, students should barricade the door so the intruder can’t come in, and fight if he does.”
Administrators implemented this policy even further when they initiated an intruder drill using ALICE routines and a fake intruder roaming the school Oct. 23. Students and teachers were directed over the announcement system about the intruder’s whereabouts so that they could enact ALICE routines.
“The assistant director of safety and Security for the school district portrayed the intruder,” Assistant Principal Dr. Tim Baker said. “The head safety and security director was out ill today, so the assistant director was the ‘bad guy’.”
Both Baker and Edwards characterized the students’ reaction to the drill as “taking it seriously,” however studies teacher Chris Fischer raised several concerns about how relaxed the execution of the drill was, hindering the purpose of the drill.
“At some point it was alarming,” Fischer said. “I think that if it would have been a real intruder I think we had disorganization, and I think we need to reinforce to the kids that you have to get away from where the intruder is at; there is never a time where you stand in line and wait for people.”
Although some students may have been surprised and walked out of the building slowly and indifferently, senior Madeline Kuligowski had a different experience trying to leave the building during the drill.
“Well we heard the announcement over the intercom,” Kuligowski said. “And then we just all kind of sprinted out of the building as fast as we could.”
Kuligowski voiced her own concerns about the intruder drill, that the school only accounted for students who were in the classroom, which was an ideal scenario.
“I think that they need to simulate what would happen if students were to be at lunch or leaving for their AUT or walking to the Career Center,” Kuligowski said. “Any time when they’re not in a classroom setting because I feel like those are very probable situations and they need to be covered.”
Baker stressed this first drill was a test run, and there will be more to come. Such new drills could include solutions to the problems Fischer and Kuligowski noted.
“In my opinion it was a large success because we found a ton of areas of efficiency, but there were a lot of mistakes,” Baker said. “That’s okay; that’s the only way we’re going to learn. So in my mind it was a huge success in that we know exactly what we need to fix, and there’s a lot to fix. We are going to be doing it…in the next two weeks.”
Whether or not they cover all the bases needed for an adequate intruder policy, the drills are an important foundation for such a policy so that repetition and constant preparedness bode well for RBHS.
“We need to wake up a little bit from the ‘It’s not going to happen here’ mentality,” Baker said. “I think it’s dangerous, and if it does happen here I want us to be 100 percent prepared. And you know what, who says it can’t happen here? So I think the reason we need to do it is because we’ve kind of ignored it as a possibility for too long.”
By Luke Chval