Members of the West Bloomfield Police Department recently met with West Bloomfield School District administrators. The meeting was held following the shootings that took place at Oxford High Nov. 30.

Members of the West Bloomfield Police Department recently met with West Bloomfield School District administrators. The meeting was held following the shootings that took place at Oxford High Nov. 30.

Photo provided by Curt Lawson


Training protocols discussed for West Bloomfield School District following Oxford High shootings

By: Mark Vest | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published December 14, 2021

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WEST BLOOMFIELD — School districts have had plans in place for years to deal with active shooter situations, but after what recently happened at Oxford High School, the subject is now in sharper focus.

On. Nov. 30, 15-year-old sophomore Ethan Crumbley reportedly shot and killed four teens and injured seven other people.

“It’s really tragic what happened there, and I know that Oxford had a pretty extensive safety-security plan,” said West Bloomfield School District Superintendent Gerald Hill. “It’s a frightening situation, the society we live in and the, I guess, lack of attention to mental health services and our seemingly unwillingness as a society to implement any meaningful gun safety practices. But be that as it may, we have been working on a new plan, if you will, since about 2018. Back then, we worked with the West Bloomfield Police Department, and they conducted an ALICE training.”

On Dec. 13, the district went into lockdown and then released students to their parents in response to online threats. The district reportedly switched to remote learning for the rest of the week after that.

“The West Bloomfield Police Department in conjunction with assisting agencies interviewed juveniles earlier today in reference to a social media post threatening ‘West Bloomfield,’” states a WBPD Facebook post. “These juveniles allegedly shared the original post, but we do not believe originated it. Neither juvenile is a West Bloomfield student. The investigation is ongoing to determine if charges will be filed. The West Bloomfield Police Department has no additional information that validates a threat to West Bloomfield.”

West Bloomfield Police Department Deputy Chief Curt Lawson discussed the relationship the department has with local school districts.

“I think part of our success with the school districts within our jurisdiction is that continual communication that we have and what we need to do to prepare ourselves for the unthinkable,” he said. “Since the Oxford incident, we’ve had several high-level meetings with school districts within our jurisdiction, and we can continue to look at how we prepared (to) see if there’s anything else we can do to be better prepared for something that might happen.”

Bloomfield Hills and Walled Lake are also within the WBPD’s jurisdiction.

ALICE training is an active shooter training solution and preparedness education program for organizations.

The acronym is for “alert, lockdown, inform, counter and evacuate.”

According to alicetraining.com, Alert is “overcoming denial, recognizing the signs of danger and receiving notifications about the danger from others.”

Lockdown is when entry points into a room are barricaded in “an effort to create a semi-secure starting point.”

The website states that the purpose of Inform is “to continue to communicate information in as real time as possible, if it is safe to do so.”

Counter is a “strategy of last resort” and “focuses on actions that create noise, movement, distance and distraction, with the intent of reducing the shooter’s ability to shoot accurately.”

To Evacuate is to “remove yourself from the danger zone” when it is safe to do so.

Hill said that, in 2018, about 100 staff members, including all of the administrative leaders, received training.

“We went through protocols for different types of emergencies, particularly intruder emergencies, and we have since been working with a company we consulted. It’s called Secure Education Consultants, and we have updated our emergency operations plan for the school district and each individual building,” he said. “We have a training schedule that we have since accelerated because of the events in Oxford. We held a district-wide 45-minute introduction to that training last Friday over Zoom with a consultant from SEC.”

Sometime in January, following the holiday break, Hill expects to have more extensive training.

“The biggest thing with ALICE training and with our updated training is to know something is an issue — the alert,” he said. “Whether you get that alert through an email, through conversations, through whatever means, if somebody (sees) or feels an event happening, that alert has to go out immediately.”

Hill shared more thoughts about the importance of alerting others to potential danger.

“Even if you think it’s far-fetched, if you see a social media posting, let some adult know if you’re a student, and take it seriously if you’re an adult,” he said. “We work really closely with (the) West Bloomfield Police Department, Orchard Lake, Keego Harbor. So if we hear of anything, see of anything that looks threatening in nature, we will inform law enforcement authorities. We encourage families to do the same thing.”

Lawson is on the same page as Hill.

“I think the biggest thing for me is that students hear things, they see things on social media, and they have to be willing to step forward and share those (things with) school officials, teachers, with local law enforcement,” Lawson said. “That’s a very effective step to preventing these types of incidents.”

Lawson said the West Bloomfield Police Department does a lot of training in-house.

“Everyone within Oakland County is trained (the) same way to react to active assailant situations, and that is that we go directly to the threat,” he said. “We have trained (and) we have equipped our people. … They know during an active assailant situation that we’re going directly to the threat to stop that threat as quickly as possible.”

Going forward, Hill expects that training could take place semi-annually.

“The staff is fully trained, and that’s an ongoing process,” he said. “As we revise or update the plan, they’re kept up to speed, and then in turn, like a fire drill — you practice fire drills. We haven’t practiced an emergency response drill for the last year-and-a-half, two years, because we haven’t really been in school. We’ve been reeling from COVID issues.”

Hill said teachers review protocols for various types of emergencies and have “age-appropriate” conversations with students.

Having metal detectors at schools has been discussed as a possible solution for preventing weapons from entering buildings.

Hill discussed that as an option.

“We’ve talked about metal detectors, and talked with law enforcement agencies about metal detectors. If we had the manpower, you could do it swiftly,” he said. “We’ll work with our colleagues with Oakland Schools (to determine) if they become aware of different types of possibilities, but right now, I’m not aware of any Oakland County schools that have metal detectors for getting into a school building.”

Hill said that having each student checked for weapons before entering a school would also require a lot of “manpower.”

He shared a message for students and parents.

“We’re all in this together,” Hill said. “We will do our utmost to preserve the mental and physical safety of our students, staff, and as a collective community. If that’s our approach, that’s our best chance to be successful at maintaining a safe learning environment for everyone.”

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