New York Daily News

 

Gun attack drills more realistic, intense as schools brace for a possible ‘active shooter’ incident
 

By SASHA GOLDSTEIN
 


(Article Edited)  Armed with guns, masked men broke into a rural Oregon school, taking aim at 15 teachers clustered in the library.

Shots and screams rang out — but the surprise attack was staged and no one was hurt.


The realistic drill, held in tiny Halfway, Ore., was meant to force teachers to see if they would survive a firearms assault.


Similar scenes are playing out across the country, more often now in the wake of Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre that left 20 first-graders and six school staffers dead.

A suburban Chicago high school ran a "code red" drill with the gunmen shooting blanks in January. Last month, an Indiana school ran a shooting drill replete with blood and a body count.

New York City public schools, home to 1.1 million students, have a safety plan that calls for a "hard" or "soft" lockdown during an emergency. Teachers either evacuate the building or "shelter-in" — lock the doors but continue with classes.

The city has been experimenting with surprise drills, too, with rocky results: An unannounced practice lockdown at East Harlem's Public School 79 — for special needs kids — was so realistic that a teacher called the cops.


"It was probably the worst feeling I ever had in my life," a teacher told The New York Times in December.

As a result, a new policy revealed by city Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott will require schools to conduct at least two planned lockdown drills each year. There's also a mandatory two-hour summer training program for school leaders.

"Everybody is concerned about the security of children, particularly in light of (the) incidents," said Chiara Coletti, spokeswoman for the principals union. "No one is balking at this."

Mass school shootings have also created a business boom for those who train schools how to protect their students.

Schools across the nation are grappling with how to best defend themselves against an intruder with murderous intent.

Other training options include using consultants like counterterrorism expert and former NYPD Detective Nick Casale of Casale Associates, who uses a "no-notice mobilization" drill when he works with New York-area schools.

Counterterrorism expert and former NYPD Detective Nick Casale of Casale Associates uses a “no-notice mobilization” drill when he works with New York-area schools.


Counterterrorism expert and former NYPD Detective Nick Casale of Casale Associates uses a “no-notice mobilization” drill when he works with New York-area schools.


Staffers know that there are two drills each semester, and that each one starts when a Casale employee comes to the school with a red envelope.

" 'I have a gun,' it says," Casale said. "What are you gonna do?"

There's also a blaring, disorienting alarm that prompts teachers to hustle all children into classrooms. He instructs school districts to invest in heavy, solid, lockable doors that can withstand an attack.

"The drill checks your vulnerabilities," Casale said. "It may sound dramatic, but you've got to be able to train the same way, just like they do for a fire alarm."

Schools are preparing for worst after outbreak of gun violence in nation.

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Casale Associates, LLC is licensed by the New York State, Secretary of State, Division of Licensing Services as a private detective agency, bail enforcement agency, armed security guard service, watchman and special patrolman.

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