Editor’s note: This story and our print story contains the incorrect date for the drill described. The active shooter exercise will take place Thursday, Oct. 24. The Daily Times regrets this error and apologizes for any inconvenience,
According to Portsmouth Police Capt. Jason Hedrick, there was an incident at Notre Dame High School in 2008. Then, for approximately the past five years, local police and firefighters have ran annual active shooter drills at schools throughout the Portsmouth district, however there has never been an active shooter event at Portsmouth’s public schools.
Parents and others can expect to see a heavily increased police presence around the Portsmouth schools tomorrow as once again officials run active shooter drills inside the buildings.
Hedrick said the first drill will take place at East Portsmouth Elementary School in Sciotoville starting at about 8 a.m. Other drills will continue throughout the day at other Portsmouth public schools.
Officials, including Hedrick, were careful to note Oct. 23 is a teacher in-service day. No students will be present during the drills.
Hedrick stated in each case that police will send in an officer, presumably in plain clothes, and imitating an active shooter entering the building. Police will be the first on the scene, followed by firefighters, medics and others. Teachers and staff inside the buildings will be watched to ensure they take, what officials consider to be, the proper precautions in case of an active shooter inside one of the schools.
The overall idea, Hedrick continued, is to ensure police and other first responders act appropriately inside and outside the buildings.
“It’s all just to make sure our skills and procedures are up-to-date and what they should be,” Hedrick said.
The first step of course will be to find and subdue the shooter. Hedrick said the proper procedure for staff and administrators inside the buildings depends entirely upon the situation at the individual schools.
For instance, in some cases the proper move might simply be to lock the classroom door, if possible. In other situations, teachers might need to act as if they are moving themselves and students to a safe location. Presumably, there will be persons inside the buildings pretending to be wounded, giving firefighters and EMTs a chance to practice their preparedness as well.
Hedrick said that while, of course, officials hope they never actually have to go through an active shooter situation, both first responders and school officials feel such drills have become necessary.
According to Hedrick, the 2008 incident at Notre Dame was essentially a case of domestic violence. A disgruntled spouse showed up at the school looking for his wife, who was a classroom teacher. The man allegedly fired one shot inside the building but did not hit anyone. He did end up stabbing the victim, who survived.
For the duration of the drills, neither the public nor the media are allowed inside any of the buildings. Hedrick said in the past officials allowed a TV crew inside to film a drill. However, he added officials felt the crew was a distraction and detracted from the exercise, possibly going so far as to ask questions of participants in the course of that exercise.
Reach Tom Corrigan at (740) 370-0715. © 2019 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved.