The scenario is unthinkable but distressingly familiar: an active shooter at a school.
To best prepare students and staff how to cope should the unthinkable occur, the Garden Grove PD on Tuesday conducted a lockdown drill at Garden Grove High School.
The drill was one of several planned over the next few weeks at schools throughout the city, and part of the PD’s ongoing efforts to minimize the chance of mass casualties should a madman with weapons attack a campus.
For about the last seven years, the GGPD has been working with the Garden Grove Unified School District to prepare for the worst, said Sgt. John Reynolds, who manages school resource officers (SROs) tasked with protecting 14 Garden Grove schools.
Behind the Badge OC was on hand Oct. 20 as several SROs fanned out across Garden Grove High School during the drill to make sure students, staff and teachers did what they were supposed to:
Turn the campus into a ghost town.
Blinds, paper or other items were supposed to block views inside classrooms.
Doors to rooms were supposed to be locked.
And students, teachers and staff were supposed to remain silent while an imaginary gunman roamed the campus, hunting for victims.
“Attention staff and students, we are in lockdown,” z woman said over the campus loudspeaker, just before noon Tuesday. “We are in lockdown.”
Officers then split into teams to inspect different areas of the campus — home to 2,500 students and 150 staff members.
Officer Gary Elkins, an SRO at GGPD for nearly 17 years, peered through a small opening in blinds in a darkened classroom.
“I can see silhouettes in there,” he said.
Elkins pounded on classroom doors as he made his way down a corridor.
“Sometime you’ll hear laughing,” he said.
Added Sgt., James Holder, who in January will take over Reynolds’ job: “We certainly don’t want them to be seen or heard, because if somebody wanted to get in they could shoot through a window and go in.”
Elkins spotted a teacher still teaching during the drill.
“If I were a bad guy, that’s where I’d go,” Elkins said.
He peeked into another window.
“It doesn’t look like anyone’s there,” he said. “That’s good.”
At 12:06 p.m., after about 20 minutes, the woman on the loudspeaker announced:
“We are all clear.”
GGPD officials then met with Garden Grove High School staff members in principal Steve Osborne’s office and gave them high marks — although the officers did spot areas for improvement.
“This is a good lockdown,” Reynolds told school officials. “Your staff did a good job. This is a positive experience. There’s room to grow — that’s all.”
Added Reynolds: “When you meet with your staff, tell them, ‘Hey, we’re empowering you to do what’s best for you and your kids, and these are things we’d like you to work on.’”