Former Resource Officer Talks School Security

By Rachel Martin

December 18, 2012 Updated Dec 18, 2012 at 8:17 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (www.incnow.tv) – A local former resource officer talks about the security precautions taken in schools and what resource officers do in similar situations.

What do school officials do to protect students? We know at Sandy Hook Elementary, visitors are "buzzed" in to the school. It's like that at many schools around the country, and there are other safety precautions in place too.

In fact, many schools nationwide have what are called "resource officers" who are trained, sworn-in officers that protect the school.

The resource officer is normally stationed at the high school, but makes rounds at the middle and elementary schools in the district.

Former Southwest Allen County Schools (SACS) resource officer, and current Allen County Sherriff’s Public Information Officer Jeremy Tinkel says he'd park his squad car out front as a deterrent, and would be one of the first people visitors would see upon entering the school.

Tinkel says all doors, except the main entrance, are locked during school hours and are checked by the resource officer and administrators throughout the day. He says although resource officers work inside a school, they're not limited on enforcing.

“He or she is going to carry all the functional equipment that they need. They'll have the police car. They obviously have to follow the rules, the laws, but they don't have any restrictions actually because they're at the school. They function as a normal police officer would out on the street, so to speak,” he said.

Tinkel says resource officers are able to carry and use their gun and other equipment if necessary, and they’re trained to handle emergency situations like intruders and shootings. However, Tinkel says he’s not sure if the gunman at Sandy Hook could’ve been stopped.

“It's hard to speculate. If the officer was off campus somewhere, they probably would've had a similar outcome because unless the officer was right there when he [the gunman] busted through that door I don't know if you could've neutralized that threat because it was almost immediate,” he said.

During the entire time of the shooting in Connecticut, Sandy Hook Elementary was on lockdown. Tinkel says a typical "full" lockdown in Allen County involves people locking their classroom doors, turning off the lights, hiding under a desk or behind furniture, and of course staying silent. But no matter how many security precautions are in place, and how much training officers get, he’s doesn’t know if tragedies like this could ever be prevented.

“You train not only the people at the school, the teachers and staff, and we train every single year for active shooter situations, I don’t know if you’re probably ever going to be able to prevent these, but hopefully be prepared when something like this arises,” he said.

Tinkel adds, “It’s such a tragedy because you have elementary school kids. This isn’t a high school, they’re not adults. There were 20-something kids killed…six years old. It’s just terrible that something like this would happen.”

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