Local schools, police trained to respond to campus violence, grand jury finds

San Luis Obispo County schools and law enforcement personnel have trained and prepared for possible violent incidents on campus, including school shootings, the county grand jury has found.

In its final report for the 2014-15 year, issued Tuesday, the San Luis Obispo County Grand Jury examined the responses of schools and public safety personnel in the event of a violent incident on a school campus.

In May, students at Atascadero High School and North County Christian School endured a live lockdown for two hours after a teacher reported hearing what sounded like a gunshot.

Four months prior, Pat Butler Elementary School in Paso Robles also went on lockdown after students reported seeing a man with a gun near the campus.

The massive response to those reports showed how local law enforcement and school administrators have made it a priority to prepare for a shooter on campus, according to a Tribune article published in June that examined lockdown procedures on school campuses.

Ongoing training at schools includes talks with law enforcement, monthly meetings with school district administrators and the San Luis Obispo County Office of Education, multiple classroom drills countywide each year, and at least one full-fledged annual lockdown drill with law enforcement involvement.

The last time there was an active shooter on a San Luis Obispo County campus, according to sheriff’s officials, was in 2003 when a 15-year-old boy walked to the front of his sophomore English class at Arroyo Grande High School and pointed a handgun at the teacher before he was subdued by two fellow students. No one was injured.

The grand jury visited 11 schools, including nine public schools and colleges and two private schools, though none were identified in the report.

Grand jurors attended school drills, off-site training exercises and talked to law enforcement personnel with the county Sheriff’s Office, all seven city police departments and several fire departments.

The grand jury found that all police departments and the Sheriff’s Office are continuously training and have sections in their department manuals outlining procedures to respond to a school incident, including an active shooter.

One department periodically sends its officers to local schools to become familiar with the campuses, while another has a school’s master keys and a map of campus.

In addition, the report noted, the Sheriff’s Office is leading an effort to provide a three-dimensional map of every school campus countywide to all local police agencies.

No agencies were required to respond to the report, but the grand jury did include a list of best practices for schools to consider. The report can be viewed at http://slocourts.net/grand_jury/reports.

Related stories from San Luis Obispo Tribune