In wake of Minnesota shooting, Cooper urges NC schools to be crisis-ready
Release date: 3/23/2005
Raleigh: Following the tragic school shooting earlier this week that claimed the lives of ten people in Minnesota, Attorney General Roy Cooper today encouraged North Carolina school superintendents to make sure all schools have completed their Critical Incident Response Kits and taken other steps to keep their schools safe.
“The deaths of ten people and the wounding of a dozen more just a month shy of the six-year anniversary of the Columbine High School tragedy serve as a reminder that these incidents remain a very real threat,” Cooper wrote to superintendents across North Carolina. “We hope and pray our state never has to experience such heartbreak. But, we owe it to our students and faculty to be ready in the event our worst fears become reality.”
Monday’s shooting at Red Lake High School in Minnesota, where an armed student killed nine people including five other students and a teacher before committing suicide, should serve as a warning to schools and law enforcement here in North Carolina, Cooper said. This latest school shooting comes just a month shy of the sixth anniversary of the worst school shooting in American history, when thirteen people were killed at Columbine High School in Colorado.
In his letter, Cooper asked superintendents to prepare to respond to a crisis by making sure that all schools have assembled and kept updated their Critical Incident Response Kit (CIRK) and by asking them to show the accompanying training video to faculty and staff again. Cooper worked with Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Secretary George Sweat and the Department of Public Instruction to develop the kit and video.
In 2002, officials at every public school in North Carolina received a videotape and a booklet that explains how to assemble the kit. Videos and booklets went to private and charter schools across the state in July of 2003. Close to 1,400 schools have completed specialized CIRK training sponsored by the Attorney General’s Office, the Justice Academy, the State Bureau of Investigation, the Center for the Prevention of School Violence, and Emergency Management.
Through a special recognition program, individual schools that have completed their kit and met the recommendations in the CIRK booklet and video receive a special certificate from Cooper and Sweat. These schools are also awarded a window decal that identifies them as ready to respond to a critical incident. A list of all 714 schools statewide that have received awards is available at www.ncdjjdp.org/cpsv/CIRK_Recognition.htm .
A completed kit includes items such as: architectural blueprints for the school; cut-off procedures for fire alarms, utilities, sprinkler systems, and cable television; keys to the school in a separately locked container; evacuation plans; and emergency contact information. Also included in the kit is a video, “What To Do in the First 20 Minutes,” which shows teachers, school administrators, and law enforcement responding appropriately to a dramatization of a school shooting incident.