FULTON, NY – Fulton City School District is taking measures to ensure that student safety remains a top priority.
Armoured One, a school security “SWAT Team driven company” based in Syracuse presented a Level One training to every member of the Fulton City School District staff and faculty.
The three-hour presentation is intended to empower school employees to respond to an active shooter or safety threat situation by following the “mindset of a survivor.”
“We’re empowering teachers to make decisions and have a plan of action,” said Scott Hare, Armoured One Vice President of Procurement and retired police officer from Town of Dewitt Police Department.
Superintendent of Schools Brian Pulvino said the training was very informative and emotional, providing a lot to reflect on.
The district will provide surveys to all staff and faculty to garner feedback before deciding it’s next steps, with the option to move forward into the next tier of Armoured One training; simulating an active shooter situation.
Armoured One has traveled nationwide to implement their trainings. They visit the locations of active shooter incidents to investigate and better ensure that their trainings are based on the history of actual deadly situations that have tragically struck American cities across the nation.
The staff of Armoured One is made up of current or former members of the military, police, special forces, or SWAT team and homeland security professionals.
The company developed after the Sandy Hook school shooting in 2012 when co-founder Tom Czyz realized that despite his position as a SWAT Team Operator, he would be unable to help his six children in school if an active shooter situation were to occur given the timeframe of response.
For that, Czyz with co-founder Tino Amodei and a highly capable and experienced team produced a series of trainings to present to school districts nationwide to empower teachers and school staff to be best prepared to save the lives of students in the time before first responders arrive on scene.
“Our entire goal for Armoured One is to slow down the attacker and speed up the police response,” Hare said. “We’re made up of all different entities that came together for one common good, and that’s to save lives of kids and teachers in the school who didn’t sign up to be involved in these types of active shooter incidents.”
The presentation sent the message to school staff that they are essentially the first responders to active situations in school.
“They’re going to be the first one on scene, law enforcement responders are really rescuers. In a dynamic event that is rapidly involving, you have to know what you’re going to do, you have to have a plan,” Hare said.
Fulton Chief of Police Orlo Green and Fulton Fire Chief David Eiffe were present at the training.
Chief Green said the presentation was very well-done and will help in police response if an active situation were ever to arise.
“Being prepared to some extent for these types of incidents is unfortunately the world we live in today. It’s good for police officers to have some idea what the school’s response to this type of situation will be so we have some idea what to expect when arriving on scene. While law enforcement is very clear on the their role in these situations having some idea of what staff members may be doing on scene is important as well,” Green said.
While many people may believe a small community poses a smaller threat for mass violence or deadly situations, Hare said that is grossly untrue.
“You absolutely can’t have that mindset. In fact, big school districts have so many security protocols in place – many have metal detectors and dozens of School Resource Officers. It’s places where you feel safe, it’s the community that is trusting and not looking at things in a safety aspect all the time,” he said.
The district was commended for ensuring that school safety remains top priority in today’s ever-changing world.
“I think it’s very important to have training of this nature. It helps to get people thinking and talking about what they will do if they are ever faced with this type of emergency. This is often a topic faculty and staff are reluctant to discuss, but it is extremely important to be aware of your surroundings and to have a plan should the need to act ever arise,” FPD Chief Green said.
Aside from having a plan of action in active situations, FCSD remains committed to maintaining a relationship with every student in the district.
“I have always felt that as a district we are very proactive in making our school environment safe for our kids, I’ve never questioned that. One of the things I would continue to stress is relationships with our students. The better relationships you have with your students, the better the culture of your school, the lesser the likelihood that something like this happens,” G. Ray Bodley High School counselor Kelly Rickert said.
Superintendent Pulvino said that the district strives to create balance in being proactive as well as preparing to be reactive to possible safety threat situations.
“We have an interactive faculty and staff, programs in place like the Positive Behavior Intervention Supports (PBIS,) and great relationships with several community agency partners. That’s really how you have the best chance of finding out about these things before they happen. That has always been a strength for us and we will continue to make sure we’re ahead of it,” Pulvino said.
The Armoured One training was one piece of several in the grand scheme of school security- a safety piece aimed at providing necessary decision making skills in the event that a situation should arise, he added.
The district is taking other measures to prioritize school safety as well.
A Raptor greeting security system will roll out in 2019 requiring anyone entering any of the school buildings throughout the district to present a valid photo identification which will collect information and provide a visitor badge, similar to gaining entrance at a hospital, Pulvino said.
Additionally, the district is looking into all coordinating pieces of school security.
Districtwide, mandated emergency drills are run routinely and district officials will begin debriefing with all levels of staff to garner feedback on ways to improve. They will be thoroughly examining the security of all single point entrances during the next capital improvement project led by King and King Architects, and using the Smart Schools Bond Act to look into the district’s camera and communication systems.
“There are all different things impacting school security both proactively and reactively. It is something we think about daily and are constantly monitoring, looking for ways to get better. If we don’t reflect on all these things in combination, we lose an opportunity to be better prepared and sadly, these things can happen by anyone, any time, any place. Safety is essential,” Pulvino said.