Shawnee Mission School District stepping up efforts to guard against school shooters

SHAWNEE, Kan. -- In recent years, the Shawnee Mission School District says it’s intervened in three different instances that could have become active shooter situations.

“I think everybody in the country is on edge more than usual because of what happened in Parkland,” says John Douglass, the Executive Director of Emergency Services for the Shawnee Mission School District, “Every time there is a shooting, we take it apart and look at it, and see what happened.”

He says the three main things he’s discussed with school leaders are surveillance, perimeter control, and active shooter training. They stepped up their efforts in surveillance, trying to gain information on potential threats to schools.

“We undertook an extensive security overhaul three and a half years ago, and we started with the bond issue, and one of the reasons I was hired was to come here and to revamp totally the security systems for the school district,” Douglass adds.

The district installed a sophisticated camera and locking system, which allows them to see what’s going on and do a variety of different things.

“There are 1,700 kids in this school, and it’s impossible to know everyone,” says Amy Eiler, a teacher At Shawnee Mission West High School.

Eiler says hearing the news of the Parkland shooting really shook her.

“It was really heartbreaking, because you hear about students dying, and they’re the same age as students that we work with,” adds Eiler.

And the security at her school helps her feel safer.

“It’s something that everyone in the country needs to think about, and when you work in a school, and you do feel like you are kind of at risk, it’s an at-risk environment,” Eiler says.

Douglass says they are doing well in their security efforts, but says they always have to be on guard.

“You can’t sit back and think, okay we have it fixed now, it’s not like that, it’s a constant effort to try to stay certainly even, and hopefully ahead of an active shooter,” says Douglass, “We are dedicated to doing the very best we can to protect everyone’s children.”

Douglass says all the active shooter situations were prevented all thanks to tips and information from students or staff.