Superintendent of Perry Township Schools
The responsibility for the safety and security of more than 15,000 students and almost 2,000 staff members is a rather daunting task and one of those thoughts that can sometimes keep you up at night.
We have spent years developing our safety initiatives through ongoing training drills to assure the safety of the children placed under our care. Frankly, you hope and pray that you never truly have to use one of these procedures, but if you do it’s important that it’s executed as flawlessly as possible, and I believe that’s what happened last week.
As many of you know, a fugitive in a high-speed chase by local police and federal marshals decided to drive onto our property next to Perry Meridian Middle School. This put us in one of those situations where we had to activate our emergency plans to protect students and staff. We are grateful and proud to say that the plan WORKED!
Staff members immediately went into a secure mode, and our children were positioned out of harm’s way within seconds.
Members of the brave Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department secured the area around the school, surrounded the armed escapee and subdued him.
After an incident such as this, you must take time to debrief the entire situation from start to finish. If there are any improvements that need to be made, we will make the appropriate changes. You also must take time to count your blessings and extend thanks to those individuals so helpful during a potentially serious situation.
We are fortunate to have a multitude of key law enforcement officials living in Perry Township.
Gary Coons, director of Homeland Security, assisted us in the development of our emergency plans for the entire district, and they worked extremely well. David Wantz, acting director of the Indianapolis Department of Public Safety, was extremely supportive through the entire situation as well. He was on the phone with me when the incident started.
The Indianapolis officers, under the direction of Perry Township Director of Security David Stalcup, were truly a godsend and addressed the escaped prisoner with swift and decisive action. The police force on the Southside is second to none.
We would especially like to thank the staff members of the three buildings that were placed on lock down for a long period of time. The principals and staff in those facilities followed our emergency plans to the letter. It is no easy task to go on immediate lockdown during a passing period, but the staff at Perry Meridian High School made it happen; within a few minutes the halls were clear.
Our school board has taken the lead on providing secure areas like secure entrances, which provide a barrier between students and those who would intend to do them harm. We have installed cameras and doors with locks. All of these things are great resources when it comes to safety, but nothing is better than the people who execute them.
Thanks again to our parents who were so patient during the ordeal. We are fortunate to call Perry Township our home, a place where the community unites for the safety of our youth. We’re also grateful to our parents for their kind words as we were placed under lockdown.
We also appreciate the media at the scene for their accurate coverage and sensitivity to the story as it unfolded.
Again, thank you to everyone for dealing with a situation we hope never happens again.