Stepped up school security measures include Prairie Village police participation in SMSD lockdown drills

Prairie Village police officers checked to make sure doors were locked during a drill at Briarwood Elementary last week.
Prairie Village police officers checked to make sure doors were locked during a drill at Briarwood Elementary last week.

It’s been nearly a year since the Sandy Hook school shooting in Connecticut, and partially in response to that tragedy, local law enforcement agencies and school administrators have enacted visible changes in school security procedures in northeast Johnson County.

One of those changes includes the Prairie Village Police Department’s participation in the monthly mandatory lock-down drills at the local Shawnee Mission schools. The new procedure, which the police department and district began roughly at the beginning of the school year, lets the trained law enforcement officers provide feedback to school staff about things they could improve to increase security. The move comes in part as a result of the PVPD’s participation in the “Defense of Our Schools” project.

Last Friday, seven Prairie Village police officers attended a lockdown drill at Briarwood Elementary, checking all the doors had been secured and ensuring the school’s lock-down plan was being effectively put into place. After the drill was complete, officers debriefed Briarwood principal Kent Peach.

Captain Tim Schwartzkopf of the police department said the officers’ participation in the lock-down drill has the added benefit of helping them get acquainted with the layout of the schools, so, in the event of an actual emergency, the officers wouldn’t be very familiar with key security points.

Peach said the feedback he gets “keeps us on the same page.”

“This help keeps our kids safe,” he said.

Schwartzkopf said officers have participated in drills at most Prairie Village schools twice by this point. Officers have not participated in a drill at Belinder Elementary yet, however.

Officers and school staff debrief after the drill at Briarwood.
Officers and school staff debrief after the drill at Briarwood.