Orrville teachers get lesson in staying ahead of an active shooter

New approach to safety plan in Orrville schools

ORRVILLE, Ohio - Orrville Police Det. Josh Hunt walked the aisle in front of the stage in Orrville Middle School for his third safety presentation of the day on Wednesday. But he showed little signs of tiring.

His words were firm and his goal was direct: Minimize the damage an intruder can inflict by using the ALICE method, or alert, lockdown, inform, counter and evacuate.

Hunt said new thinking and new methods of the old lockdown rules have to be implemented to thwart anyone bent on killing.

"If they know it's going to be easy for them, they don't have any problem carrying it out," Hunt said. "If they know it's going to be a very difficult thing, then it may slowly convince them not to try that, that they're not going to be successful in it."

"If we can change the mindset of some of them, or even one of them that says ‘You know what? It's a little too risky. I might get caught. They might take me into custody and I might go to jail for the rest of my life." So we're hoping it changes the mind there," Hunt said.

Seventh-grade math teacher Jeanne Cerniglia sat shoulder to shoulder with her fellow teachers for Hunt's presentation.

"It's critical. On the one hand, it's uncomfortable for us because we're in a situation where it's not something we want to think about doing. On the other hand, we're wired to protect our kids," Cerniglia said.

Orrville City Schools Superintendent Jon Ritchie is also in charge of Southeast Local Schools and Rittman Exempted Village Schools. This plan is just one of many he has implemented to ensure Orrville children's safety and ease Orrville parents' of fears. Slowing a gunman down is at least one step closer to a life being saved.

"No plan is going to go off perfectly, but if you spend time practicing those things what you're going to do is execute your vision more clearly and more effectively. So that's what this about: Making sure that we've done everything humanly possible to ensure our students are safe," Ritchie said.

Hunt stressed this is not about teaching students to attack an armed gunman. This about confrontation as a last resort. But it starts with a proper, safe lockdown followed by an announcement over the school's public address system to clearly warn everyone, Hunt said. It's also to let anyone intent on causing harm know that they are being watched and that no one is cowering, waiting for them to strike.

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