Jun. 7—LEWISTON — Students and staff in the Lewiston school district will receive training on how to best respond to active threat situations from a law enforcement instructor in the district.
"We have to start having these conversations with our kids," Superintendent Jake Langlais said. "It's a terrible thing to have to think about, but it's even worse if we've not done anything to prepare ourselves."
Renewed concern for school safety has been widespread following a shooting at Robb Elementary School in Texas on May 24, which left 19 students and two teachers dead.
Lewiston schools will train using strategies developed for Avoid, Defy, Defend, a program developed by the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training program at Texas State University.
Steve Reece, the law enforcement instructor at Lewiston Regional Technical Center and a retired Portland police officer of 34 years, will lead the trainings. He learned Avoid, Defy, Defend strategies as Portland's training sergeant, later leading training sessions for organizations, including schools.
On June 16, 1,200 staff members in Lewiston schools will have the opportunity to participate in the training. A program for students will be developed this summer to be held in the fall.
Organizers of the training have been in conversation with the Lewiston Police Department, Langlais said.
"You need to understand how law enforcement is going to respond, also," Langlais said.
"I can tell you that Lewiston Police Department's plan is to absolutely enter a building or wherever there's danger and put a stop to that danger," he added later. "That is absolutely their plan."
The training will not only be available to teachers, but also educational technicians, custodians and other staff members. Students and staff who do not wish to participate in the training can opt out.
"It's really that best practice for those life critical scenarios and what you can do in those three to five minutes to really try to get yourself in a safe position and preserve life," said executive director of operations, William Grant, who is helping plan the trainings.
He likened the training to the principal of stop, drop and roll.
"You know, if someone were to catch on fire and take off running, that's the wrong thing to do, but you stop, drop and roll," Grant said. "That's a best practice for that, and so this is a best practice for those life critical situations in trying to get people so they're doing the best they can to preserve life."
Langlais said many school administrators have already participated in the trainings.
"(The June 16 training) is not the end-all be-all, it is the beginning of probably what I see as a long-term discussion," said LRTC Director Rob Callahan, who is also involved with the planning.