Authorities say school intruder drills are "a sign of the times" - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Authorities say school intruder drills are "a sign of the times"

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MONTEAGLE, TN (WRCB) - When many of us were growing up, our schools had fire drills, or maybe even tornado drills.  We had never heard of an active shooter drill, an intruder drill, and never experienced a lockdown.

Now these terms are quite common, and necessary, according to school and law enforcement officials, and Tennessee state lawmakers. We're living in a different world, they say, and school districts are now required to prepare for the worst

We've witnessed the frightening scenes all too often.   Schools dealing with threats from within, and from intruders as well.  Despite increased security, our children frequently find themselves in danger, as schools across the nation have become targets for deranged individuals.

This is why several states, including Tennessee mandate regular safety drills, including scenarios in which an intruder, or even an active shooter is on campus.   In Marion County, officers from three law enforcement agencies converged on Monteagle Elementary School, for an intruder drill.

The principal notified teachers, via code, to lock their doors, and not allow students near doors or windows. Officers go to each classroom, and when the intruder is found and apprehended, an "all clear" signal is given.  

During the drill, Monteagle's 300 students in grades K-8 never saw a single officer or their simulated weapons. Officials say it's important for the Special Response Team to know the ins and outs of the building, but there's no need incite fear among students.

The drill only lasted a matter of minutes, but school officials know the real thing could go on for hours, even days.   Worst-case scenarios like hostage situations or gunfire can't be dismissed.   And in relatively rural areas like Monteagle, security is a top priority, because response times from out-of-town officers can take several minutes.   There are no perfect solutions, but planning sessions and drills could help save lives if such a nightmare becomes reality.
The Special Response Team is made up of officers from the city of Monteagle, as well as Grundy and Marion County Sheriff's departments.  

As a sign of their dedication, many of the officers undergo emergency training on their days off.  

In Hamilton County, officials say they're unable to do a large scale drill each year at all 75 schools, but they do work with the Sheriff's Department to ensure that each school has an emergency plan in place.
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