Wednesday, March 07, 2001

Police prep for school violence

Forces keep photos, floor plans on hand

By Ray Schaefer
Enquirer Contributor

        BURLINGTON — If a situation similar to Monday's shootings in Santee, Calif., were to take place in Northern Kentucky, police think they could handle it.

        Most police departments don't have detailed plans for schools because each situation is different. But Edgewood Police Chief Steve Vollmar said they have what are called “unusual occurrence plans.”

        “There are some general plans we can devise and talk about,” Chief Vollmar said. “There are just a ton of issues to deal with. It's good to talk about these things. If we talk about them, we have to think about them. And if we think about them, we have to answer questions in our own minds.”

        Boone County Police Chief Jim Whalen said key telephone numbers, floor plans and pictures of school interiors are being put on compact discs. That way, officers can study the pictures and diagrams before entering a building.

        Campbell County High School Principal Steve Sorrell is a reluctant authority on school violence. He was an assistant principal at Ryle High School in Union on May 26, 1994, the day then-Ryle student Clay Shrout killed his parents and two sisters and took a classroom hostage. Mr. Sorrell took Mr. Shrout's weapon away.

        Mr. Sorrell said school officials are aware of the potential for something like the Santee shootings to happen here. He said the most important things are to persuade students to talk and to take what they say seriously.

        For Chief Vollmar, acting quickly is paramount, which he said the Santee officers did.

        “You haven't got time for a (special weapons and tactics) team,” Chief Vollmar said. “You have a choice; you can wait around and watch people die, or you can do something.”

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