The Dallas Independent School District held active shooter awareness training for several thousand students on Monday. This event intended to impart ways to better spot potential threats of campus violence and how to respond should it happen.
The school district called the effort the “See, Say, Do Something” campaign, a first-of-its kind situational awareness training. Reportedly, it was organized months ago, predating the May 18 school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, that took 10 lives and injured 10 others.
Around 6,000 Dallas ISD middle and high school student leaders and roughly 1,000 elementary school staffers from the district’s 230 campuses and approximately 157,000 students heard from representatives with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and Dallas ISD police. The two-hour event was held at the American Airlines Center in downtown Dallas.
One of the program’s main objectives was to get students to “say something” if they know a school faces the threat of an active shooter.
“We know from statistical data that 80 percent of school shootings that happen in this country, at least one other person was aware it was going to take place,” said Dallas ISD Police Chief Craig Miller. He told CBSDFW: “We need those 80 percent of those kids to tell us what’s happening.”
Mark Herrera, the director of education for the International Association of Venue Managers, the group that manages the American Airlines Center, created “Situational Awareness Mindset” training for large scale events. He is also a former Homeland Security SWAT officer. He noted: “Ninety percent of the shootings, a student planned the attack in advance.”
The experts also touched upon potential “pre-assault indicators” that may signal a classmate is in distress such as wearing “oversized, inappropriate clothing” or a garment that “bulges” near the waist or hip where weapons may be concealed. They also pointed to behaviors including nervousness, muttering, anger, and depression as they could signal a student is troubled. Also, the experts emphasized paying attention to possible threats made over social media.
Miller called it “critical” that students understand social media. “We’re following you on social media. We are in your business,” he told The Dallas Morning News. “We know what you are doing, but don’t be fearful that if you make a threat and it’s veiled and we find out who you are, there will be possibly criminal repercussions and that’s something that could stay with you the rest of your life.”
The training session also focused on teaching students to have a heightened sense of awareness about their surroundings, whether at school, the mall, or anywhere they go. The experts also shared tips for students to identify building exits as well as hiding places in the event of an active shooter.
Dallas FBI Special Agent John Skillestad explained to students, “You have to have situational awareness to understand what is going on so that you can make it out alive.”
Herrera believes increasing “observational capabilities” is key to mitigating potential threats. He told KDFW: “School kids that have never been exposed to violent situations they have no method of preparing, planning or recovering from these situations.” He added: “It’s incumbent upon us as a community to provide them with those tools so that they have those resources available should a crisis ever come into their environment.”
During the Dallas ISD awareness training, teen school board members also led a panel discussion on how to address the issue of gun violence in schools, according to the school district.
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