I-Team: School security in Illinois

April 9, 2014 (CHICAGO)

We've been learning lessons from school attacks for almost 26 years. That's how long it's been since a disturbed woman named Laurie Dann went on a violent trek through the north suburbs, ending at Hubbard Woods School in Winnetka, where she opened fire killing one child and injuring five.

Since then there have been Columbine and Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois and dozens of plots and lockdowns in between. On Tuesday, the latest in Pennsylvania once again prompted the I-Team to look at how training in Illinois schools is set.

The 16-year-old student with a butcher knife in each hand was tackled by two administrators who had just gone through an emergency drill three months ago and a full district exercise last year. School officials here credit that training for no deaths, although 22 people were wounded, several seriously.

Schools here in Illinois are in the first year of a new law requiring mandatory emergency drills, which was passed after pressure from the school shootings in Newtown, Conn. As with most school emergency training, Illinois' program is focused on active shooter situations, not specifically how to deal with a student brandishing butcher knives.

The Illinois law requires schools and local law enforcement to work up a shooting drill and go through it once a year, by comparison, severe weather and fire drills occur numerous times a year.

How many schools have complied with the law and how well isn't yet known. An I-Team investigation last year discovered that there is no single standard across the state for how to respond to school violence, and a wide range of plans to keep 2.3 million students and more than 150,000 teachers and administrators safe- with some turning to private companies for training.

"In our upper level grades we can include things like using objects in the room for self-defense. Also the technique called 'swarm,' where you can address the active killer/active shooter through the use of several individuals to take him down using the extremities," said Erin Harris, Response Options instructor.

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