The Press Newspaper

Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

The Press Newspaper


          In the wake of a mass shooting at a high school in Florida last month, Oregon city officials stated at a council meeting last week that the city is prepared to deal with an active shooter should the need arise.

        “Obviously, with the events that happened in the Florida school shooting a few weeks ago, Oregon is very aware of those things,” City Administrator Mike Beazley told council at a meeting on Monday.

        “Everyone thinks it can’t happen here, and it won‘t. But being prepared is a good thing,” said Beazley. “In Oregon, we’ve done a lot of active shooter drills. We do take those things seriously, and do our part to be prepared.”

        On February 14, 14 students and three staff members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, were killed after a 19-year-old former student allegedly entered the school and opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle.

        It is considered one of the worst mass shootings in history, and has stirred a national debate on gun violence.

        The incident has sparked a national debate on gun control.

        Police Chief Mike Navarre said at the council meeting on Monday that he attended a school safety forum with parents and students earlier that day at Clay High School.


Great strides

        “There was a lot of good discussion, a lot of great ideas,” said Navarre. “It was a very respectful crowd, even though there were various opinions in the room. I think it’s important that we continue the dialogue. Many in the audience echoed that sentiment. I think we have made some great strides in the schools in bettering our preparedness. We talk about it frequently. We talk about it at our staff meetings. Every time there’s an incident like what happened in Parkland, Florida, we dissect it, we try and learn from it. I don’t know that we can ever completely eliminate the possibility of it ever happening here because the fact of the matter is it can happen here. But we want to be as prepared as we possibly can.”

        Councilman Tim Zale, who also attended the forum, said the police department has been well trained on how to deal with active shooters for many years.

        “There was a lot of good information at the meeting. The thing to remember is that we started getting really serious about this when we put SROs [Student Resource Officers] in the schools,” said Zale. “We debated about doing that for a long time before we did that. It turns out that was probably one of the best things we’ve ever done. Some of the SROs, through the years – have changed, and we’ve had the same group for quite a while.”



        The SROs, he added, pushed for police training in the national A.L.I.C.E. program, which stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate. The program provides preparation and a plan on how to more proactively handle the threat of an aggressive intruder or active shooter event. A.L.I.C.E. training based tactics have become the accepted response compared to the traditional “lockdown only” approach.

        “They have themselves started our A.L.I.C.E. program,” said Zale, a retired Oregon police officer. “They got the city to work towards that in the schools. We have some experts in Oregon in this particular program. They have taken this very seriously. Our police department has been behind them all the way. We’ve been ahead of the curve for this kind of thing. We’re years ahead on how to handle this. I go back to the days when I was still in the police department when we initially trained for it, and how we transitioned and train for it now.”

        Zale said previous training had officers organize outside of the building where an active shooter was located. It is no longer the case today.


Enter alone

        “When we first trained for it, before A.L.I.C.E. was actually a real program, we were trained to gather at the building, and everyone went in as a group. We were more tactical in that respect. I don’t know how other cities are doing it, but in our training now, when officers arrive, they go in by themselves. They don’t wait. That’s a lot of dedication that the officers have trained for and, I think, do fearlessly. We’re really lucky to have the programs that we have and how well we work with the schools, especially with the training we’ve given them and the SROs we’ve provided them with. I’m proud of what our city has done with this.”

        Councilman James Seaman, a former psychologist with the Toledo Public School District, said some have brought up the idea of possibly arming teachers with guns as a way to protect schools.

        “I don’t think that’s a good idea,” said Seaman. “Most people feel we should let our law enforcement officers take care of that. Let the teachers just take care of the teaching. I think we’re better off that way. We could open ourselves up for additional problems. Oregon, as Mr. Zale said, has been on the cutting edge. That’s great that we’re ahead of the curve.”



Did you watch any of the TV coverage of President George H.W. Bush?
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