The drill featured a masked “gunman” firing a starter pistol throughout the campus as well as a few students who played the role of gunshot victims.
“I was victim No. 3,” said Jorge Perez, a 19-year-old Imperial High student. “I wanted to participate in the drill because I hope to be a firefighter some day.”
Members of the Imperial Police Department and the Imperial County Fire Department were on hand to capture the “shooter,” evacuate the school and tend to the numerous “victims.”
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“Because of the shootings that have been happening around the country I think it’s important for the Police Department and the Fire Department to be ready in the event something happens here,” said Perez. “I think for the most part all of the students took it seriously because it was so realistic.”
In addition to the sounds of gunshots, the Police Department provided background noise of screams and yells that played throughout the drill, which lasted for more than an hour.
“I think (the screams) add to the whole situation by making (it) seem more realistic, which is just as important for us as it is for the police,” said Roger Ruvalcaba, school principal. “The drill helps us, (the police) and the school prepare as best as we can for something like this. It also helps prepare our teachers and students what we would expect from them in this situation.”
The school tries to hold the drill on annual basis and as a result it has become more realistic.
“Unfortunately with all the shooting and violence that has occurred at schools it’s changed as far as how we deploy our manpower and how we deal with an active shooter,” Imperial police Sgt. Timothy Ramos said. “It’s something we have to stay on top of.”
Overall, Ramos said he was happy with how the drill was carried out as well as the coordination efforts of the school and the law enforcement officials.
“If I have to give a grade here of being on campus, I’d give an A-plus,” Ramos said. “We’re very happy with the work between all of us, and of course the students because they are the ones we are here to protect and serve.”
Staff Writer Karina Lopez can be reached at 760-337-3439.
Some local events have caused concern for communities around the Imperial Valley in the past year, prompting additional security or lockdowns.
Meadows Elementary School
A transient made his way onto Meadows Elementary School this week, prompting a lockdown of the campus east of El Centro.
A very disheveled and incoherent man walked into an eighth-grade classroom on Wednesday before lunch, said Superintendent Sharon Theis. Students were able to alert their teacher, who was very well trained and was able to make him back out of the classroom, telling him ‘you need to leave the classroom now.’
A secretary and custodian both told him to leave the campus as well, and he did, though he turned back around toward the school, which prompted the lockdown, Theis said. The man was lost and looking for a corner market. There was no imminent danger to any of the students.
The incident was a learning opportunity for the school, Theis said.
The school found out it needs a better public address system in case students are on the playground during recess, she said. There also needs to be more drills so the students know what to do in case a situation like this happens again.
“It scared the children, but with all the things going on we’re all a little jittery,” she said. “It’s something we need to all be considering.”
Though no intruder was involved in the case, there were potential threats referenced on social media sites in December that caused additional security in Brawley. The threats were determined to be unsubstantiated, but police officers were assigned to school sites and the districts deployed additional security personnel on Dec. 21.
Calexico Unified School District
An incident occurred when a man under the influence of drugs came onto the outskirts of William Moreno Junior High School property, was arrested and caused a temporary lockdown on Oct. 23. It led to the Calexico district’s decision to review and improve its emergency preparedness.
— Compiled by Elizabeth Varin, digital media news editor