Human Assets

  • No security system operates in a vacuum. The human resources can be just as, or even more important, than the physical infrastructure in place. They greatly influence how strong the security system actually is.

    Agency Partnerships—the district partners with several local agencies on safety and security. This includes not only law enforcement, such as local police departments and the Washington County Sheriff's Office, but also child welfare, mental health, and juvenile departments. Chief of Public Safety Lisa Erickson engages in a lot of liaison work to ensure our partners have what they need to keep our schools safe. School resource officers from law enforcement are key partners at the building level, not just preventing and mitigating incidents, but also striving to provide a positive, reassuring and supportive presence through class presentations and friendly, informal conversations.

    Police officer visitA North Plains police officer talks to kindergartners about stranger danger.

    All partners are well-trained, prepared to respond in any emergency, and stand ready to protect our children. They regularly participate in active shooter drills, an unfortunate consquence of the times we live in. Erickson indicated there is planning for a very large training event coming up that involves multiple agencies—public safety, police, fire, and dispatch—as well as others who need to be present for an emergency. This preparation reinforces the usual training to ensure everyone knows their roles and responsibilities.

    Attitudes and Behavior—we obviously don't want anything to happen, but we need to be prepared. Complacency, or the attitude that something won't happen, could result in inattention to security risks. Carelessness itself can be a security risk. 

    According to Erickson and Public Safety Systems Specialist Fred Kuest, the biggest holes in security are propped-open doors. While it may inconvenient to have a door locked while running a quick errand outside the building, such as getting something from a car (complacency), the act of propping open a door, or not securely closing it, is careless and leaves the building vulnerable to an intruder. Even if it’s just a few minutes, but especially if it's forgotten, an unguarded, open door totally negates a key security barrier and deterrence. To help prevent this, Kuest is currently investigating a project that would provide propped-door notification in our security monitoring system so that staff can immediately respond to close the door.

    Drills and systems training are very important ways to practice safety protocols and utilize the physical security in place. Every school year, each building is required to participate in periodic drills, whether they are lockouts, lockdowns, or fire drills. These drills not only reinforce the protocols and have everyone practice the correct behavior during different situations, but they also serve to provide feedback and to determine gaps and needed security improvements. Taking drills and training seriously and maintaining safe practices are ways to help keep everyone secure.

    “For us, it’s really getting the attitudes and the priority to safety,” Erickson said, “prioritized every day, every minute of the day, not just during an emergency event.”

    Community Vigilance—the mantra “if you see or hear something, say something” is important to preventing a threat or incident, whether this information comes via the rumor mill or social media. Reporting a tip to a teacher, administrator or safety officer allows an investigation before something can happen. Erickson stressed that these reports are treated confidentially. They result in a threat
    assessment process with our partners, including meetings, decisions, and contacts with students and families as needed, to mitigate and prevent the threat or incident. 

    “I think sometimes people are afraid to [report],” Erickson remarked, “but we would rather have the information and resolve it to nothing than not have it, and have an event occur.”

    Reporting Safety Concerns
    Immediate danger: call 911
    For non-emergencies: visit for options.

    Erickson encourages parents to have open, age-appropriate discussions with their children about safety, such as taking drills seriously, listening to staff, helping to keep doors closed, and not letting people in who should not be in the building. Staff also should be discussing safety and providing feedback on what is best for their building.