Tuesday, July 23, 2019

School resource officers aim to keep teachers, administrators on their toes

By Jessica Wettig

On Aug. 20, Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a bill that requires Illinois schools to conduct an active shooter drill within the first 90 days of classes. School Resource Officer and Goreville School Superintendent Dr. Steve Webb aided in getting this bill passed.

School Resource Officers (SRO’s) are police officers who have training with education and working with kids and teachers. They are trained not only for active shooter response, but their main purpose is for prevention, according to Webb.

The first SRO was implemented in 1953.

Webb said that an SRO’s day should never be the same. The job is very fluid, and there’s a variety of ways to do it.

He said the main goal is to recognize what the norm is with the students, teachers and school as a whole—and to be able to recognize when something out of the norm is going on. Teachers, in particular, are really good at this. When one recognizes that something is not normal, the next step is to tell someone, such as the SRO.

This could be a variety of things, including a student becoming a recluse, romanticizing violence, looking at school shootings online, experiencing a traumatic life event, and many more possibilities.

“Complacency is our biggest downfall,” Webb said.

He said he tries to keep the teachers and administrators alert, and always ready for a situation. He communicates with the students and teachers, checks the door, shakes on doors to train responses, teaches classes, and a variety of other ways.

“You don’t ever want your day to be predictable,” Webb said.

He said a common misconception is the idea that SRO’s are in schools to arrest kids. This is not true. They are there to protect the students, and to be positive role models. They also act as a liaison to the police department, and act as a bridge between the school and the community.

Webb acts as the superintendent as well, so he splits his time as an SRO with this title. When he is not in the school, Goreville Police Chief Eddie Holland takes his place.

Webb is a certified police officer with the Village of Goreville. He became a police officer in order to become an SRO. He has been both a police officer and SRO since 2009.

He wasn’t mandated to become an SRO, but chose to do so.

“I wanted to learn what the rules of being an SRO should be,” Webb said.

Webb has visited Columbine High School in Little Town, Colo., where the 1999 school shooting occurred. He also visited Aurora, Colo. where the movie theater massacre occurred in 2012. He made these visits to learn what teachers, administration and SRO’s can do to prevent shootings.

He received his initial and advanced certification through the School Safety Advocacy Council.

He is a certified ALICE Level II Active Shooter Response Instructor. ALICE stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate. These are steps designed in detail for an active shooter situation.

He is also a certified RAIDER Level II Solo Engagement Mitigation for School Resource Officers Instructor. RAIDER is an ALICE program designed for first-on-scene responders to properly respond to an active shooter situation.

Webb is also on the Illinois Terrorism Task Force School Safety Commission and the Department of Children and Family Services Child Death Review Team. He is the School Safety Consultant in both Regional Office of Education #21 and #30. He conducts school safety trainings for teachers and administrators all over the country.

He is a nationally known leader in school safety measures, speaking at state and national conferences across the country.

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