Littleton Public Schools is often recognized as a national leader in school security, says Guy Grace, the district’s director of security and emergency planning. But when the Columbine tragedy hit …
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Littleton Public Schools is often recognized as a national leader in school security, says Guy Grace, the district’s director of security and emergency planning.
But when the Columbine tragedy hit in the nearby Jefferson County Public Schools district in 1999, things were more rudimentary.
“Security was more about property protection back then,” said Grace, whose title in 1999 was security facilitator. “We were worried about vandals and trespassers. We had security cameras, but they just taped onto videocassette, and they got taped over every day.”
On the day of the Columbine tragedy, Littleton schools went into lockdown, but beyond that, district officials were flying by the seat of their pants.
“There was no roadmap,” Grace said. “There were no processes and procedures.”
In the weeks that followed, LPS cut down on entrances into schools and increased security and police patrols around school perimeters.
As years passed, things got more sophisticated. In 2002 the district adopted one of the country’s first integrated security systems, utilizing a wide range of cameras, security protocols and coordinated communication with local law enforcement.
Today, the district is cited as a model of school security, drawing articles in national publications. Grace is also the director of the Partner Alliance for Safer Schools, a nationwide school security consortium.
The task these days is to integrate physical security measures with mental health services, Grace said, and to break down communication barriers between students, staff and parents.
LPS was hit with a tragedy in 2013, when an Arapahoe High School student killed classmate Claire Davis. Grace said the incident could have been “a hundred times worse, if we hadn’t had lockdown drills.”
Grace said there’s work yet to be done.
“Are we perfect? No, we’ll never be perfect, but we’re evolving.”
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