SOUTH EUCLID, Ohio (WJW) — The deadly mass shooting at a Texas elementary school Tuesday has impacted people across the country — including those tasked with protecting students.
“For somebody that’s a school resource officer I took the job specifically to work in the schools with kids because I love kids so much, it was heartbroken for me to hear that,” said South Euclid Police and School Resource Officer Joe Di Lillo.
He says the shooting reinforces the importance of police presence in schools.
“My job is to show support, be visible and ultimately, secure, make sure the building, the students and staff, are secure and safe,” he said.
National School Safety Expert Ken Trump says the elementary school in Uvalde reacted correctly.
“We saw all of the things that we would expect in a school emergency plan,” Trump said. “Lockdown procedures, mass communication notifications, parent/student reunifications, school resource officers nearby. From the response end, we see those things in place that we would hope to see, the challenge is the prevention end, how can we prevent these on the front end.”
Part of that is the unpredictability of where the threat is coming from.
“After Columbine, we knew what the parameters were we had some type of boundaries, today we have a volatile, uncertain, chaotic world and the threats can come from both within and outside of the school,” Trump said.
“When things started to change post-Columbine, you started to see patrol officers change in their response. They’re no longer waiting for SWAT, they’re no longer setting up a perimeter,” said DiLillo.
He showed us the key fob available to South Euclid officers to get immediate access to the schools.
“They don’t have to wait for a teacher to let them in, a student to let them in. They can get right into the school, make contact with the subject and go forward from there,” he explained
Last week, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine awarded $4.8 Million in grant money to nearly 100 Ohio schools for physical security enhancements but DiLillo says training people should be the focus.
“All of the technology in the world is only as great as the weakest human link behind it so we have to focus our school staff on making sure those doors are locked,” Trump said. “Making sure we’re greeting and challenging strangers in a building, watching our perimeter to see if there’s someone approaching that doesn’t belong and we need to spend more time on the human factor.”