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For North Kansas City Teachers, Back-To-School Means A Refresher On Protecting Kids From A Shooter

NKC_ActiveShooterTraining1.jpg
Elle Moxley
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KCUR 89.3 file photo
Educators in the North Kansas City Schools practice barricading a door during active shooter training. They're told to prepare to fight if they aren't able to escape.

Clay County Sheriff Sgt. Scott Archer walks down the hallway of Antioch Middle School and claps two blocks of wood together.

Bang. Bang. Bang.

The sound of simulated gunfire always gets Chris Edman’s blood pumping. Immediately, she and the other North Kansas City teachers Archer has trained begin to barricade the door with tables, chairs, filing cabinets, even a mini-fridge.

"You really start thinking, 'Oh my gosh, if this were real, this is what I would have to be doing,'" says a slightly out-of-breath Edman at the end of the activity. "Hopefully we've practiced it enough that when it does happen" — she stops and corrects herself — "if it were to happen, I'd be ready to go."

Wednesday's session is a refresher as educators return for the 2019-20 school year. Edman, who teaches second grade, helps train her colleagues at Davidson Elementary on what to if an armed intruder ever enters the building.

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Credit Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3
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KCUR 89.3
Sgt. Scott Archer, a school resource officer, helps train teachers on what to do if an active shooter ever enters the building. Here, he uses blocks of wood to simulate the sound of gunfire.

Archer, who has been a school resource officer for 19 years, says teachers are more engaged when they're being trained by one of their colleagues.

"When we go in and hold something up and say, 'This is how you’re going to protect yourself'... the staff member might say, 'Oh, you're a cop, you have a gun, you have all this equipment,'" Archer notes. "But then when the trainer is standing next to us saying, 'No, this is what we can do,' it gives them more buy-in.”

Strategos, a Grandview-based company, partners with North Kansas City and other districts in the metro to deliver this training. Most teachers get some kind of safety training as part of back-to-school preparations.

Archer started his job not long after 13 people were killed at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. He says training for teachers changes after every school shooting, once law enforcement has studied how the attack was carried out. 

Reassuring kids and parents their school is safe, he says, is only a small part of his job.

"I'm there building relationships and building rapport," Archer says.

Elle Moxley covers education for KCUR. You can reach her on Twitter @ellemoxley.

Elle Moxley covered education for KCUR.
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