School Safety Forum questions answered

Last month, RCAS hosted a school safety forum. The last 45 minutes of the presentation was reserved for questions. We did not get to all of the questions that night, but we did keep the questions and answered them to the best of our ability in the table below.



Question Response by: Response


Sentinel Questions Dr. Lori Simon This is a complex issue, and not one that is as simple as “just having Sentinels” in our schools for a myriad of reasons, some of which you will see in the others’ responses below. One of the questions we have already investigated is district and staff liability. We have contacted our insurance underwriters, and their response is clear. They would revoke our insurance if we have employees remain in their current positions as is and take on Sentinel responsibilities. In order for them to provide continued coverage, in order of preference, they’d prefer that we:

1)         Work with local Law Enforcement to hire more School Resource Officers


2)         Hire, directly on the district’s payroll an armed security person whose sole duty, 100% of the time they are on the clock is security under the Sentinel Program (this is not an option in SD due to legislation that prohibits security guards from being armed, as I understand it from local law enforcement)


3)         If we would want to use existing staff, 50% or more of their day would have to be solely responsible for security purposes, thus obligating us to hire another .5 FTE minimally for their core job duties. This is not only disruptive to their job responsibilities and the functioning of a school but requires FTE costs that we believe would be better served through the consideration of additional school resource officers.

As a district, we are exploring multiple funding channels to expand physical safety through facilities and security technology and to possibly add more School Resource Officers.

Doesn’t statistics show that “gun free” or “soft targets” are where the vast majority of mass shootings occur? With that, is that not reason to get rid of those zones?  When the SRO’s are gone, who is there to secure the facility? Why not utilize other resources, such as security, maintenance, custodial with conceal carry training? The real issue with stopping a threat by someone is training.  Proper training will ensure multiple and dispersed proactive response and threat neutralization. Lieutenant Brian Blenner Gun free zones or soft targets are ideal for Active Killers because people generally do not counter their actions.  A good example is the theater in Colorado.  Some of the speculation is the shooter picked that theater because of the gun free sign.  Instead of focusing on the aspect of if one person had a gun in the theatre I would rather look at how did the victims respond.  The victims ducked down and hid behind the seats.  Seats in a theatre do not provide protection against bullets.  My point is this: if those same people were trained to run or counter, they increase survivability instead of waiting for another person to come with a gun.   We need to train our public on how to respond to increase surviving an incident and not be completely dependent upon waiting for someone else with a gun.


Looking at arming security, maintenance, custodial with a concealed carry seems like an easy answer to a complex problem.  Law Enforcement has 14 weeks at the LE academy on all aspects of Law enforcement to include firearms.  The RCPD and PCSO also provides an additional 56 hours continuing firearms training for new officers.  Once they are trained then they have several more firearms trainings each year.  It would be hard to train someone to the level of a police officer.

Law Enforcement get a lot of training in the use of firearms, but even with all the training, they still miss 80 percent of the shots fired.  This is due to several factors to include stress, moving targets, etc.  The reason I bring this up as I have heard people comment on how they could shoot better than most police officers.  That could be true, but a static target is much different than combat shooting.


Another consideration is with multiple Law Enforcement agencies coming into an active shooter situation, as we have in Rapid City, we would not be able to distinguish which staff member is armed. All we are seeing is someone shooting a weapon in a school environment which does not have visible law enforcement credentials.

When looking at a proactive response – victim mitigation should be a key component.  Often the focus in the media is what was done after the event has started instead of focusing on how we train our staff and students in school to maximize survivability and prevention.

Will you finally implement a sentinel program in RC schools? It appears you have an effective tool to provide real protection to students that you aren’t even considering. Lieutenant Brian Blenner,

Sergeant Chris Hislip


As of right now we have a Liaison/SRO in each high school and middle school.  Their duty day is scheduled to be at each school.  The school sentinel program is a good move for South Dakota and allows each school to make the decision based on LE resources in the community and geographic locations.  We are fortunate to have so many LE agencies in our area which will respond.  Instead of focusing on one solution (gun) the district has opted to look deeper into the problem of active killers in schools.  One of the first determinations was a passive one size approach does not work.  The schools with the most casualties tend to have a traditional lockdown only tactic where the students hide in room and are static targets.  The strategy creates easy targets for an active killer.  The options- based response is recommended by several federal agencies to include Homeland Security to increase survivability.  So instead of focusing on one method we have empowered teachers to make a decision based on what they know.  These methods use the most current research available and change the focus to preventing people from becoming victims.  The Staff in the RCAS have all been trained and tested on the strategies.  This is approach is changing an entire thought process on what to do in an event.  This process is being used by business, houses of worship, and anywhere an active killer event could happen.   I have been looking for data on any schools with school sentinel preventing or stopping an active killer and I have been unsuccessful in finding any data to show their success.  We are using best practice with proven strategies for everyone, not just depending on a single option.  The RCPD, PCSO, and RCAS is always looking toward the best solution to keep children and staff safe.  We will keep reviewing best practice using current data to provide the safest environment for Rapid City.
If a school staff member is willing to take responsibility and undergo the necessary training. Why wouldn’t an armed presence be available on campus? Lieutenant Brian Blenner, Sergeant Chris Hislip Previously answered in other questions regarding school sentinels in Rapid City Area Schools.


There are several other logistical, legal, liability, and safety concerns that arise when staff members are armed with firearms.  We have run scenarios locally including participants proficient in firearms acting as the teacher that showed the inability to overcome the action vs. reaction gap.  In fact, in one of the scenarios, the teacher with the gun ended up accidentally shooting several participants acting as students in a classroom and was not able to shoot the active killer.

Does RCAS have plans to employee armed guards? Does RCAS have plans to allow teachers or other school staff to be armed at school. Dr. Matthew Seebaum Previously answered in other questions regarding school sentinels in Rapid City Area Schools.


When will the Sentinel Bill be introduced into the RCAS district? Dr. Matthew Seebaum Previously answered in other questions regarding school sentinels in Rapid City Area Schools.


What would the reason be for not implementing the Sentinel program? Lieutenant Brian Blenner, Sergeant Chris Hislip Addressed above.
If the school district is pressured enough, will you allow more firearms to enter the school?  If so, how far will the district go?  If not, what will you improve to our safety protocol and how much $ is the district willing to spend? Dr. Matthew Seebaum This question implies that pressure would come from an external faction, and when considering a topic such as this, there would be much involved and processes in place from the Board of Education would be followed. As shared in previous responses, RCAS has a robust Liaison Officer program with strong law enforcement presence at schools, highly qualified and well-armed officers at secondary schools, and we are confident in our building security to effectively handle security issues. As a district, we are exploring additional funding through multiple channels to expand physical safety through facilities and security technology and the possible addition of more Liaison Officers.
The clearest proactive measure to prevent mass shootings is to restrict gun ownership selectively.  Does the RC school district plan to support the effort toward stricter gun control?  If not, why? Lieutenant Brian Blenner

Sergeant Chris Hislip











Dr. Lori Simon

This question was answered as there was a similar question.  The students did not appear to have ALICE type training.  It is important to realize that no amount of training, security measures or equipment will reduce all risk to 0.  It is a complex problem that will require a multi-faceted response.


With regard to the second question, there is school board policy which prohibits staff from promoting partisan politics.

Are school liaison officers trained in PBIS? Eric Reynolds Some SRO’s are very familiar with PBIS, but we have not done a formal training per say for SRO’s.
What is the active shooter protocol for law enforcement? Wait for backup or what? Lieutenant Brian Blenner, Sergeant Chris Hislip


Our training provides that law enforcement immediately responds to an active threat.
In the past the SRO’s were grant funded for a period of time and were primarily used by former administrations as nurseries for baby detectives. Is that still the case? Lieutenant Brian Blenner, Sergeant Chris Hislip The SRO is not grant funded and is a partnership between PCSO/RCPD and RCAS.  Each Liaison is chosen in conjunction with RCAS based on several factors but none of them being a training ground to become a Detective/Investigator.  SRO/Liaison is a competitive position which results in a highly skilled individual.  Because of the high quality of applicants, they often move through different areas of each department throughout their careers.  Chief Jegeris is a good example of caliber of people who have been selected as an SRO.   Each SRO/Liaison receives advanced training in school related topics.
Do SRO’s have readily identifiable parking spots and do they use readily identifiable vehicles? Lieutenant Brian Blenner, Sergeant Chris Hislip SRO/Liaisons each are assigned department vehicles.  Where officers/deputies park varies among schools which is dependent upon multiple factors.  The RCPD currently utilizes marked vehicles and PCSO utilizes unmarked vehicles which are equipped with equipment to provide emergency responses.
Do SRO’s leave school to work cases, chase truants or are they on-site during school hours? Lieutenant Brian Blenner, Sergeant Chris Hislip An SRO’s first responsibility is toward their assigned schools.  Case work generated for SRO’s is related to assigned schools, so they work those cases in the school environment.    The RCAS has a truancy officer to address students who are not at school.  Their duty hours are in conjunction with school hours.
Are there law enforcement officers at the schools all the time? Lieutenant Brian Blenner, Sergeant Chris Hislip Not every school has an assigned in-house SRO.  Central / Stevens each have two SRO’s.  Every MS has one SRO.  Elementary schools have dedicated SRO but it is shared resource with the High School and Middle School SRO’s.

I would like to tell you each SRO is there each and every day but just like any employee we need to provide time to them if they are ill, getting specialized training, or need a vacation.  Every effort is made to accommodate each school during an absence.

How can Law Enforcement get into secured doors?  Who has control of secured entry? Kit Cline


Yes, law enforcement and fire fighters have access to our buildings.
Does the Liaison –SRO – have the authority to “shoot to kill” the active shooter? Lieutenant Brian Blenner

Sergeant Chris Hislip

Yes, they are sworn law enforcement and are trained to take the appropriate response.
In an active shooter situation, does the presence of a liaison officer really do anything?  As stated, they wear civilian clothes and carry a handgun.  Do we really believe they could deter/stop any active shooter? Lieutenant Brian Blenner

Sergeant Chris Hislip

Yes, there is some evidence to show known law enforcement present on campus has a positive effect on preventing these incidents…not only responding to them after they start. We have training and equipment (visible and not visible) at our disposal to respond to these incidents.  Based on researched noted in a previous question, we believe the investment in fostering a positive learning environment is more effective at preventing these incidents by breaking down those barriers than wearing our uniform deterring an active killer. A law enforcement officer is much less approachable by students and staff while they’re in uniform (especially carrying a rifle) and research supports approachable adults who have gained the trust of the students is the most effective way within our control to prevent these issues.  Placing SROs in uniform changes little in the response because we don’t normally patrol with our rifles slung.
Is there a liaison officer at each school all day, every school day?  If not, is there a plan for this? Lieutenant Brian Blenner

Sergeant Chris Hislip

We do not have officers house in every elementary school. We will continue to look at all our options to best serve the community.
Are there liaison officers in each school, even elementary?  And, are they present for the full day of school? Lieutenant Brian Blenner

Sergeant Chris Hislip

Answered above.


Are there programs, positions and/or security measures that you as educators/administrators or law enforcement would like to implement but cannot because of funding? If so, what and would there need to be a federal mandate.

·         Mental health programs at all schools

·         Social workers at all schools

·         Counselors

·         Security measures

·         More liaison at elementary schools

Lieutenant Brian Blenner, Sergeant Chris Hislip This is a complex question as funding is tight for all agencies involved.  We would always like to have more but we have to analyze each expenditure to provide accountability to the taxpayers and provide a quality education.
With the keyless entry at 100% are the first responders going to be able to gain instant access?


What’s the best way to report something after hours?


Lieutenant Brian Blenner During a lockdown or ALICE each door is automatically locked and will not allow access.  With technology today, LE is allowed access even in the event of lockdown.  Each officer/deputy who is on duty, SRT members, and SRO’s will each have the availability to access any electronic controlled door.


If you need to report something after hours simply call our dispatch center.  394-4131 or non-emergency and 911 in an emergency.  When calls are made, shift supervisors will notify school Liaisons/SRO as needed.



Kids don’t always share everything they know immediately.  When there is a question of a threat in a school, how will we as parents know so that we can talk to our kids to see if they know something? Sergeant Chris Hislip, Lieutenant Brian Blenner Please speak to your families on constant dialogue with their children.  Explain the importance of school safety with their children as it is important to say something if they see something unusual.  Data shows most school active killers had planned their event and had communications with other kids that went unreported.  When LE and school officials receive information of a threat the STAR (School Threat Assessment Response) protocol is initiated.  Every STAR threat is thoroughly investigated by local LE and School officials.  The majority of the reports are not credible. If LE and school officials conclude there is credibility to an incident that will likely result in parental notification.  We do it this way so the incidents with credible information do not blend in with non-credible threats.
What daily changes can be made to prevent an attack in our schools?

·         No backpack policy/metal detectors

·         Teachers with pepper spray/stun gun

·         Student support services – Access to counselors that their main responsibility is mental health support not just career readiness, reclusion programs, programs to develop a sense of purpose for all students

·         Parent support programs

Teacher support – smaller class sizes and access to counselors

Lieutenant Brian Blenner Best practice across the country for school safety is continuously reviewed.  Some of the items mentioned do not have data to support their effectiveness.


Why can’t we have a security measures similar to what we have at the court house? Sergeant Chris Hislip The Pennington County Sheriff’s Office is in charge of the safety of the Courthouse and Jail. Many of the same measures are already employed but may not be as noticeable in the school environment.  Even with all those preventative security measures in place, incidents still occur in these facilities.  In addition, many studies show a positive school environment is the number one way to prevent these types of events and practices mirroring a penal institution would severely detract from the positive school environment.
All doors are locked and visitors are then “buzzed in”. Once the person is in the building they are not questioned unless then walked to the office. Dr. Matthew Seebaum Anyone who is not wearing a visitor badge, or a school ID card will be questioned by security or school staff.
Do you discipline staff that violate security rules? (Examples might include leaving door unlocked or blocked open) Do food services staff verify expected deliveries before allowing them in? Dr. Matthew Seebaum We hold our staff to high standards of conduct and performance and we discipline staff when warranted and appropriate. We utilize safety protocols that meet or exceed industry standards and when employees are found to be in violation of such protocols, they are disciplined per our standard human resource practices.
Does your technology sound an alarm if a door is blocked open? Dave Janak No.
What steps are being done to secure schools with multiple buildings and annexes? Dave Janak

Kit Cline

The RCASD utilizes electronic access systems on campus with multiple buildings and annexes.
Why can’t we have measures that you pass through to get on a plane or going to a courthouse Lieutenant Brian Blenner Answered above.
Do schools use any door guardian mechanisms during lockdown? For example – barracuda lockdown device Kit Cline Fire code does not allow us to utilize manufactured mechanisms that prevent egress.  However, item within the environment (classroom) can be utilized.  For example, an occupants belt can be used to secure a door handle or door closure mechanism.
During the event (i.e. active shooter) what technology is used to update teachers, students involved in the incident? Lieutenant Brian Blenner

Sergeant Chris Hislip


There are several platforms that are being considered to improve communication during these events.  The school’s PA system, possible phone apps, email, walkie talkies, and automatic calls are being considered.  School District and Law Enforcement personnel are working together to improve these systems, for example, the PA in most gyms are not audible.  The school district has already made investments in improving existing systems.
Do all RCAS have the same security measures as the others?  If not – why? Dr. Matthew Seebaum All schools in the district use consistent approaches to security, which is backed up by standard operating procedures related to building security, entrance, and egress. The district provides a consistent crisis management plan that includes responding to emergencies to include the ALICE protocol.
“See something, say something” failed miserably in Florida.  The FBI, local sheriff and PD, the mental health system and the school didn’t heed all of the warnings.  Tell us this won’t happen here.  A child with over two dozen law enforcement actions doesn’t belong in a classroom with his peers anymore. Lieutenant Brian Blenner, Sergeant Chris Hislip Federal Law provides every child the right to a free, public education.  We have current policies and procedures in place that help assess the credibility of a reported threat.  We would like to assure you that something like that will never happen here, but research shows each situation is unique and unpredictable.  Be confident that your local law enforcement in conjunction with your school officials take every threat seriously.


Why is BMS not in a high school at this point? Dr. Matthew Seebaum, Dana Livermont RCAS wanted to approach our mini-pilot with a very thoughtful plan for success. We considered many factors in deciding on which schools to utilize for the beginning stages of this partnership, including school sizes, population and interest coupled with capacity from BMS. This is the first stage in the pilot, and we hope to grow the partnership to more schools, including our high schools.
How were the four schools chosen for the BMS program? Are more going to be added? Dana Livermont Answered above.
Why are there no mental health experts up on the stage today? Katy Urban Our lead counselor was out of town. We did ask an outside mental health professional to participate, but the individual had an urgent matter to attend to at the last minute.
It was mentioned earlier that students who had been hospitalized at Regional were considered an increased risk. Do you consider those who attempted to take their own lives a threat?  Are there certain groups that are or aren’t threats? If so, how is this knowledge obtained? If a student knows that they will be seen as dangerous, couldn’t that prevent them from asking for help? Dana Livermont,

Lieutenant Brian Blenner

A student being hospitalized or having/acting on thoughts of suicide does not necessarily make a student dangerous. Any information about a student’s mental health can help guide us as we try to support him or her as a school and family team.

If there is a known suspect in a direct threat to the school, LE and School officials review all available information to determine the credibility of a threat.


It is our responsibility to let law enforcement know if a friend or person is having unstable mental thoughts. Lieutenant Brian Blenner If you are concerned for the wellbeing of somebody, you can always let law enforcement know at 605-394-4131 or 911 if it’s an emergency situation.
What preventative steps are you taking to help students at risk of harming other students and teachers?  PBIS is not reaching all students. Eric Reynolds As students demonstrate continuous behaviors that are harmful to themselves or others we look at behavior intervention plans to meet the needs of the child. This allows teachers and administrators to track what types of interventions work and do not work. These students are referred to counselors and sometimes outside agencies to determine there much deeper issues than what the school district can provide at the basic level. If the BIPS do not work and the student ends up receiving consequences, we hold them accountable for their actions and try to make it a teachable moment as opposed to being extremely punitive. Upon return to school, we have begun implementing re-entry plans for the student to re-integrate into the academic environment. The bottom line is, if a student is identified as a possible threat, we try to implement various corrective strategies starting with least restrictive to most restrictive BEFORE the student harms someone else.


What are your doing to stop bullies that could cause children to feel that they can’t trust staff or adults to stop being bullied which could result in harm to themselves or others? Do you feel that we need to stop bullies in order to prevent our children form escalating to physical harm or even becoming a possible threat to the school, others or themselves? Eric Reynolds I do feel we need to stop bullies to prevent further harmful actions by the victim. We are working on a new, more in-depth investigative process for bullying. We have also made sure that school admin/faculty not only contact the aggressor’s parents but the victim’s as well, NO MATTER how serious or not the situation is. We want all of our students to feel like they can trust staff and adults within our schools. We also emphasize that in order for us to act against bullying, students MUST report it. In order for students to trust, there has to be a relationship. At NMS, Principal Talley has had staff identify students they do not know much about and make the efforts to get to know them better (what they like/dislike, favorite food, sports, etc). She has emphasized the importance of relationships. I am currently working on materials to educate parents better as to what bullying is and is not, as well as how to talk with their student about bullying.
When law enforcement and liaison officers arrest/discipline kids – there are, in result, more red flags for the schools and community.  How does PBIS play into the disciplinary portion of the safety procedure? Eric Reynolds PBIS is designed to be proactive as opposed to reactive. Ideally, the student should be moving through the three-tier process with behavioral interventions. When they are arrested this provides more information to the PBIS team(s) at the school to implement deeper intervention plans while targeting specific behaviors that have resulted in the student getting arrested.
Who is “we” in PBIS?  2 men?  What are they doing? Eric Reynolds “We” in PBIS is every PBIS team member from the campus level on up to the district level that includes counselors, teachers, administrators, some parents, and even students. The 2 men as you mention are myself and Thomas Stewart. What we do, is provide the guidance from the district level to the school administrators and PBIS teams in addition to the District PBIS team. Furthermore, we have implemented two pilot programs within the district to better track behavioral data, so schools can better hone in on specific behavior sets that could potentially become volatile. Furthermore, Tom and I assist schools in refining their PBIS practices and currently are standardizing these practices district-wide to align with the strategic plan while managing behavior to provide safe and welcoming learning environments. We also identify training needs for schools to provide further PD in their growth. Every school is at a different level and our job is to bring every school up to the same level with standard practices. At the end of the day PBIS is implemented at the campus level with guidance and support from the district. Finally, we act as liaisons between the district and the state DOE.
Are suspended students allowed inside school buildings while on suspension? Eric Reynolds Suspended students are not allowed in school buildings while they are suspended. Typically, a no trespass order is issued; however, in some circumstances, students may need to come to the school to have specific learning needs met per their IEP as stated by federal law. In these instances, arrangements must be made so the student can be escorted and placed in an area with the providing teacher without disrupting the school environment.
Do expelled students add risk to schools like Stevens with an open campus policy?  All doors are open between passing periods.  Stevens does not have a single point of entry between passing periods. John Julius

Sergeant Chris Hislip

This is a known challenge and steps are being taken to mitigate the risk.  It is not accurate that all doors are open between passing periods.  Some doors are required to be unlocked to allow students to get to their next class based on building layout alone.  The amount of time they are unlocked has been greatly reduced over the past year and a half after reviews of student route traffic. This biggest challenge we face now with locked doors are students opening doors for other students during unauthorized times.
Grade school ISS rooms should be in place.  Why aren’t they? Eric Reynolds These are campus-based decisions by the administrator. Most grade school buildings do not have the space or the staff to man these areas. At the grade school level, many schools use the buddy teacher system where the student is removed from their home classroom and placed in another teacher’s room to reflect on their actions. Other methods include placing students in the office, or in the counselor’s office. I would like to note that if there isn’t some way of reteaching behavior while in ISS, then it becomes a holding room to complete work. In many cases students will choose to not work and just sit. ISS and OSS need to have purpose for imposition otherwise we just create larger gaps and more frustration on the child’s part which in turn results in further escalation of behavior.
Not all perpetrators of mass shootings are kids.  How effective or ineffective is ALICE in the case of a terrorist attack on a school? Do you address this with the children? Is there a plan for that? Lieutenant Brian Blenner, Sergeant Chris Hislip Alice is an all hazards approach to crisis events.  Staff makes decisions based on information provided to best increase safety.

This is addressed with students as this is a life skill they can use outside of schools as well as post high school.

Terrorists often target those who are fleeing/evacuating the scene. Doesn’t ALICE expose more kids to danger? Sergeant Chris Hislip Good question. The best thing about ALICE is it gives options for staff and students to evaluate each situation and come up with an individualized response.  There is no longer if A happens you should do B.  One thing we learned from all Active Killer incidents is they are unique, and anything can happen.  Because of the nature of any active killer event staff will respond to the known threats and not every possible occurrence.  Research also shows if you are fleeing and evacuating your survivability increases over being a static target.
I read online that Parkland had training similar to ALICE. This leaves me to wonder…are there any instances of ALCE actually working? Lieutenant Brian Blenner After listening to interviews of students directly after the shooting it appeared they had a one size fits all lockdown strategy.    There have been several Active Killer attempts at ALICE Trained facilities with no fatalities.  A good example of using an ALICE strategy occurred as close as Harrisburg, SD when an active killer entered the school.  Harrisburg is an Alice Certified facility.  A staff member was shot (non-life threatening) and was able to subdue the suspect with no students being shot.

A portion of the ALICE training shows participants how Action is much quicker than Reaction.  A good example of this is not school related.  President Reagan was shot by an armed gunman.  Even though President Reagan was surrounded by armed secret service agents the gunman was subdued by the action of one individual taking the shooter down.  No shots were ever fired from the Secret Service.

Does ALICE have any research on multiple shooter situations? Sergeant Chris Hislip Yes, they have utilized research from multiple sources to develop statistics on multiple shooters.  The research concludes that only 3% of the Active Killer events have had more than one shooter.  The interesting fact on multiple shooters is when the Active Killing started the shooters were remained within feet of each other.  I would encourage anyone who would like to look at the research go to,, and click on their resource section.
Have any of our responses changed or evolved due to the reports of shooter using fire alarm to draw students out? Lieutenant Brian Blenner

Sergeant Chris Hislip

The short answer is yes.  Existing crisis plans already included steps to take during an ALICE condition when the fire alarm was activated.  As with all of the events, we take a hard look at improving our practices and learning from the challenges faced during those events.  In the Florida incident, the fire alarm was tripped before the emergency condition (lockdown) was activated.  We are currently working with the local Fire Marshall to determine if modification of our current fire alarm response is proper.
How does or can ALICE work in special needs rooms where kids may be unable to understand, follow directions or may be immobile without assistance? Cher Daniel ALICE allows all staff to make best decisions given the emergency/event information that is occurring. Each Case manager in Level 4 classrooms, which includes our students with the most significant needs are required to complete an individual emergency plan for each student. These plans define who does what for each student. These rooms have extra staff to assist with student care as well. In conversations with these teachers, we have talked about “staying put” may be the best option depending on the threat, as moving those type of students out of harm’s way may not be the best strategy.
The students and faculty at Marjory Stoneman Douglas also had an ALICE training equivalent.  They clearly recognized the potential threat of a school shooter.  17 students still died.  What makes RCAS especially capable to address these issues? Lieutenant Brian Blenner

Sergeant Chris Hislip

This question was answered as there was a similar question.  The students did not appear to have ALICE type training.  It is important to realize that no amount of training, security measures or equipment will reduce all risk to 0.  It is a complex problem that will require a multi-faceted response.
Is ALICE training done every year in the schools? Lieutenant Brian Blenner

Sergeant Chris Hislip

Yes, it is.  Each year every staff member has to complete a blended learning to have the most up to date information.
How do you feel about the current safety protocol and its use in real world situations? Lieutenant Brian Blenner

Sergeant Chris Hislip

We are continually improving in this area.  There is never a time when we can stop and say we’ve got it all figured out.  We learn from the mistakes of other incidents.  We review our School Threat Reports.  We implemented responses like ALICE to give staff and students real life training and options to respond to these type incidents.  Before ALICE, we never taught students anything more them to try and hide and be quiet. There was no direct training for them.  That’s changed.  Staff were usually in the dark and simply followed a list of things to do during a lockdown, but there were always situations that didn’t fit the instructions given.  That’s changed.  Law Enforcement is going through scenarios with staff, so they experience the process instead of simply being told what to do.  We are empowering staff and students to take active actions to increase survival in these situations, instead of relying on a door lock and no formal skills on how to respond.  These skills are lifelong skills that can be carried on into adulthood.
With a child attending Stevens HS, I have many concerns as to the ability to secure the great number of doors when students are required to travel outside to access classes in other buildings and also open campus movement. How is movement monitored? How are doors secured? Principal John Julius

Sergeant Chris Hislip

Stevens High School does have some unique security challenges solely based on the structure layout.  All of the doors are secured/opened electronically and that can be done remotely.  Several steps have been taken to reduce the number of doors used by students, the amount of time they’re unlocked for passing periods and security procedures involving the main entrance.  Another example of work done includes the installation of a doorbell and peephole on the loading dock, so personnel can positively identify vendors prior to opening the door.  Rest assured there are several other layers of security and monitoring that take place behind the scenes.  Some of this information is purposely withheld from the public to avoid compromising the safety of our students.
I have concerns about the entry at West MS.  There are 2 to 3 classrooms and a set of stairs to the 2nd level before the admin office.  Are there any plans to change this? Kit Cline


The building meets the ADA Requirements based on the building’s age of construction.  RCASD installed wheelchair lifts to provide transition from one level to another level.  RCASD has identified additional improvements pending availability of funds.
There has been some concern about response time to Black Hawk elementary.  As I understand, there is some confusion of jurisdiction.  What are you doing to correct this? Sergeant Chris Hislip Jurisdiction plays no role when there is an active killer. Mutual Aid agreements are in place, so nearby law enforcement officers can take immediate action.
I am taking PE at Stevens High School and must walk outside the building to get to class.  How can you assure I am safe? John Julius, Sergeant Chris Hislip As stated above, Stevens High School faces unique security challenges.  There is no one-size-fits all response or item you can buy off a shelf that will assure you are 100% safe no matter the circumstances.  The outside campus areas are monitored through several means, one of which is a roving security officer in a car.
At what point are auto-dialer communications present tense?  How long is school on lockdown before we are notified? Katy Urban We will notify families as soon as we can safely do so, and as soon as we have accurate information to relay.
What can we do to train teachers, the real first responders, in better first aid and trauma training (like a gunshot wound) in the event of an incident like a shooter.  Currently there is little to no training. Dr. Matthew Seebaum This is a good point, and we can do more in this area. Our teachers are trained in universal precautions and basic first aid, but not trained in trauma response. We do have school nurses on staff to assist with major health-related emergencies and injuries.
Why is the burden on the district to prevent shootings? Isn’t that obligation partly the government’s? Also, mental health is not the issue.  What did the information on mental health imply? Dr. Matthew Seebaum Addressing anything related to school violence is a community-wide issue and any “burden” falls upon multiple agencies and families—along with the school district. As a school district, we do have a responsibility to put appropriate measures in place to keep our students safe when they keep our students safe when they are within our care and we take this seriously. In relationship to the government, it is difficult to discern if this means federal, state, or local government. With regard to this, RCAS is supported by local law enforcement through governments including the City of Rapid City and Pennington County through the provision of Liaison Officers in our secondary schools. The comment about mental health is based on opinion, as to not warrant a response except to say we view mental health as a critical area to be addressed in Rapid City, the state of South Dakota, and nationally that is related to potential school violence.
Isn’t there an obligation to help others in America? Just because “the sky isn’t falling in Rapid City” doesn’t mean it’s not falling elsewhere. Also, the sky could fall any moment.  What is the district doing to put pressure on the government to act? Dr. Matthew Seebaum From the perspective of RCAS, we believe in learning from research and best practice nationally and internationally which is how we receive help from others. With regard to helping others in the United States, we network with other law enforcement agencies and school districts to help them learn from our experience and expertise. This is particularly relevant as it relates to our Liaison Officer program, which was among the first in the country and began in the 1970’s. We do participate in national dialogue and seek funds and assistance to increase security in our facilities through available funding and grants.
What would happen if a drug deal went wrong within a school zone during school hours? Sergeant Chris Hislip It ultimately depends on the facts surrounding the incident.  Without more information, I can’t provide an educated response.