By: Lizzy Kittle
In light of recent events at Marjory Douglas Stoneman High School in Parkland, Florida, school safety has become a hot topic around the country. Many schools are implementing new policies, while others are simply going over theirs so every student and teacher understands and is ready in any emergency situation. Seton LaSalle, like many schools across the country, have done the same. Security updates have been added to our school and are being improved upon every day.
Talking with our security guard, Joe Sotak, it was revealed that there are security precautions being taken, that most students aren’t aware of. Every visitor to the building has to have some form of viable ID, a driver’s license for example. Their ID is scanned and it is vetted against a national database before the visitor is allowed into the building. There are also now 26 different cameras scattered around the campus, in the hallways, the library, at every entrance, and soon there will be one in the cafeteria. Sotak has access to see every camera at his (new) desk.
Sotak has been trained on response tactics for a multitude of emergency situations, including an active shooter situation. He said that his best advice in a shooter situation is first, if it is safe and possible for you to do so; run. Get out of the building if you can. If it is not possible for you to run, secure the classroom you are in, lock the door, turn the lights off, and hide the best you can. If it is not possible to run or hide, his best advice is to fight for your life.
Many in the SLS community felt a need to inquire about the lanyards students and faculty are required to wear. The lanyards are for police and emergency responders coming into the school, so that they can quickly and easily recognize a student or faculty member and quickly identify who is supposed to be in the building and who is not.
When asked about a shooter drill for this year, he said that the administration and the Mt. Lebanon Police Department are working on drills, and even a possible seminar to teach us about school safety.
Sotak, was a police officer with the Allegheny County Police Department for 30 years. He is armed at all times, which he said was not something he wanted to hide from the students. He wants them to know he is armed and is completely trained on what to do in active shooter situations.
School safety is not something that Seton is taking lightly, the steps being taken are solely for the purpose of keeping us safe. Wearing your lanyard is a pain, but the reasons we wear them are really for keeping us safe. The issue of school security has come up again and again and Seton is responding in a way that will protect us in most emergencies.