STRUTHERS, Ohio (WKBN) – How prepared are Valley schools in the event of an active shooter? The security runs on multiple levels and training is important for everyone to feel prepared.
“You’re always learning, you’re always evaluating your plan and looking at situations when these tragedies happen to try to be prepared the best you can,” said Struthers Superintendent Peter Pirone, Jr.
Each school district in Ohio must have a safety plan and they’re required to practice it. But being prepared for emergencies goes even further.
“One thing we also started is doing surprise drills so our principals won’t even know we’re coming,” Pirone said.
“I preach to them — train like you fight, fight like you train — so they know that when we’re doing drills that we’re to be doing it as if it’s the real thing,” said Mahoning County Sheriff’s Deputy Bill Sosnosky.
Sosnosky has been stationed at Jackson-Milton for four years and believes the students’ practice makes them ready.
“I believe the kids understand the importance of it,” said Yvonne Wilson, a juvenile diversion officer at Struthers. “Every time we do a drill, we always make it different. Document it, discuss it after we did the drills — what worked, what didn’t work.”
Nearly every school or district has a police officer walking the halls for protection, and they’re always ready to listen.
“You have students that come and talk to you. You have staff members that come and talk to you. That’s your dispatch, that’s them coming to you to report a problem,” Sosnosky said.
Wilson dresses in plain clothes but develops similar associations with students.
“I do have a connection with these kids that they feel comfortable talking to me about different things going on in the school,” she said.
Schools evaluate their safety plans after drills and their message is loud and clear about how to handle situations on a daily basis.
“See something, say something,” Sosnosky said.
“To talk to an adult, to call the police, to talk to our diversion officer, to call our anonymous hotline in order to report things,” Pirone said.
That applies to both students at school and adults at home. A situation that could affect what happens on campus can develop anywhere.