Editor’s Note (March 2017): We are pleased to welcome Doug James as the new Director of Security.

Start where you stand.

It is a mantra that the district’s safety & security specialists are teaching and repeating across Bellevue schools this year.

In education you start where you stand, building on existing knowledge and learning that came before.

With the hiring of Director of Security Mike Dorman over the summer and the restructuring of the security department to include four safety & security specialists, the district is building on its reputation for excellence by continually improving its emergency and disaster preparedness. This reorganization unifies the safety and security team, leveraging team members’ areas of expertise in support of the safety of the BSD community.

Dorman came to the district with over 25 years of experience in security and law enforcement. He has held positions such as a law enforcement officer, detective, and patrol sergeant, as well as a firefighter/EMT, and various security management positions in government, the private sector, and public transportation. As director of security for the district, he is leading the continual development of the district’s security processes and relationships with local public safety agencies.

The district’s four safety & and security specialists have an array of experience and each works with a set of district buildings in addition to a specific specialty area. Ginger Bonnell, Shane Williams, Kelle Hansman, and Pete Curran specialize in emergency management, physical security of the district, threat assessment, and patrol, respectively.

The revamped team has been busy conducting building assessments, updating procedures and protocols, and leading trainings for school and district level staff.

Additionally, part of the team’s work this year, Dorman explained, has been clarifying the roles of the police department and district security in order to maximize efficiency and effectiveness.

“We do everything you don’t need a cop for, so the police only do the things you do need a cop for,” Dorman explained. “You get a nice dovetail.”

The overall goal remains: ensuring safety of the community and building confidence, mental preparedness, and increased safety awareness through stakeholder instruction.

“It’s not about the fear factor, it’s about being empowered,” Bonnell said.

Tabletop Trainings

Do you know the difference between an emergency and a disaster?

If an earthquake hits, what do you do once the shaking stops?

In a disaster who at your location directs the response?

What’s your backup plan?

These and many more are questions being asked in table top trainings around the district this year. Bonnell is leading the exercises, designed to stimulate the conversation about preparedness.

On a recent day of tabletop trainings at Bennett Elementary, groups of staff members went through an earthquake scenario, discussing response measures like communication, supply management, security & damage assessment, student care, and more.

“Disaster response is a fluid thing,” Bonnell told staff. “You have to be able to adapt.”

The groups reviewed information about using the buddy system, being aware of yourself and knowing your limits so that you can in turn help others, as well as basics about assessing damage, making decisions about when (in an earthquake scenario) to evacuate a building, and more.

When it comes to training, it’s important not to prepare for just one scenario, but to develop a menu of possibilities that you could choose from as a situation develops. And that, Bonnell says, is the point: You can’t predict everything, but if you know yourself and your environment you can be prepared to assess and respond, doing the most good for the most people in the shortest amount of time.

Active Shooter Preparedness Trainings

Active Shooter Preparedness Training continues to be an emphasis in the district.  The security department revamped the training this year to focus on the staff role, and all staff are required to attend during the year.

During these trainings, conducted by the district’s safety & security specialists, participants are reminded that they are the first responders, and that when seconds count, police are minutes away.

At a staff training, Safety & Security Specialist Shane Williams said, “We don’t want to live in fear, but we want to be prepared.”

Williams emphasized that staff must decide what to do if placed in an active shooter situation.  Their three options are run, hide or fight.  Run if you can, hide if you can’t run, and if you must, don’t be afraid to fight, said Williams.

“The biggest thing is to get away from the threat,” he said.

The goal is for staff to be empowered by the trainings, be ready to respond, mentally rehearse their plans and know to do something versus nothing.

The specialists also remind staff that if they do see the shooter, and are able to call 911 be sure to get and their location, number of shooters, physical description including clothing, and number of weapons.  The more information provided to police the better.

What’s Next?

The safety of the district’s students and staff is the security team’s top priority and preparation is the key to success.

Next year Security plans to deliver age-appropriate active shooter trainings to students in the district.

Not only is the security department training district staff, but they are also receiving continuing training themselves to improve their skillset and build relationships.  This year, the majority of the team attended The Great Conversation in Security conference, and Dorman delivered a short presentation as a panelist.  It was an opportunity for industry thought leaders and practitioners to come together and focus on the business of enterprise security risk management and strategy.

“Nothing that you do to prepare goes to waste,” said Bonnell. “It is invaluable because of the confidence it gives you.”