Rural Indiana District Trains, Arms Select Group of Staff

Rural Indiana District Trains, Arms Select Group of Staff

“If something happens, we just cannot get police in time to schools in a rural community our size,” Superintendent Jeremy Gulley said.

The Jay School Corporation in Portland, Ind., has added several biometrically secured safes containing guns at each of its eight campuses.

A small group of teachers and staff at each district school was vetted by the sheriff’s officer and trained on using the weapons. That group now has access to the guns should an active shooter situation occur.

“If something happens, we just cannot get police in time to schools in a rural community our size,” Superintendent Jeremy Gulley said.

The gun safes are monitored 24/7 by video surveillance, which is overseen by the district and the sheriff’s office. The sheriff’s office receives alerts if the safes are opened or tampered with.

The guns and safes were added as part of a district effort to follow school safety guidelines set forth by the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission report.

“We know we need to make schools more secure, but we don’t want them to feel like prisons,” Gulley said.

According to Gully, the guns will be used only as a last resort.

The district has added security and safety upgrades to each campus, including dozens of security cameras, digital visitor sign-in systems, advanced metal detectors and ballistic film on windows and doors. The sheriff’s office is able to monitor the school’s video cameras.

“It makes me sleep better at night, definitely,” Sheriff Dwane Ford said. “You gotta be plugged in and you gotta be plugged in quick.”

Jay School Corp. has also increased its focus on the mental health of students. Mental health professionals have been added to every building, and the district has developed threat assessment teams, which include teachers, administrators, school resource officers and mental health representatives.

“So you have the right people in the right room, using the right tool to identify these concerns, these threats or risks of behavior to get the right help in place,” Gulley said.

The district also has an anonymous reporting system, which allows students to report threats and report any mental health concerns. The system is directly connected 24/7 to the sheriff’s office and the district.

According to Gulley, the community has mostly supported the safety measures set forth by the district.

About the Author

Jessica Davis is the Associate Content Editor for 1105 Media.

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