On April 12, just two months after the tragic Parkland High School shooting, the Milton Tri-School Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) invited police officer Joseph Kratzel to its board meeting to inform parents about the new ALICE protection program in township schools. ALICE stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evaluate.

ALICE is to be implemented when there is an armed visitor in the school. Instead of going into the corner of a classroom with the lights off, feeling helpless for yourself and fellow classmates, students and school personnel should take the following steps:

Alert parents and local police officers so they are able to be on site as quickly as possible.

Lockdown by barricading the door with chairs, tables, extension cords, and desks in order to protect yourself from the threat.

Inform police officers where the threat was most recently heard in the building.

Counter an intruder who enters the room by throwing anything available (books, staplers, etc.) in order to disorient the person.

Evacuate the scene. For example, if an announcement is made that the intruder is far away from your classroom, flee the building and run for safety.

Each decision is made by the teacher and/or administrator in the room. Teachers will sweep the nearest hallway in order to take in any wandering students. Bus drivers and custodians are also trained for each scenario. Parents will not be allowed near the school during the situation, but there will be communication so that they can see where students are and be reunified with them when possible.

The police department does its best to keep students safe. Officers constantly monitor social media, from which 31% of threats come. They also walk through and around the schools to search for suspicious activity, enabling them to note such actions more quickly. There were more than a thousand walk-throughs in the district during the 2016-17 school year. From the first call that a threat has been detected in a school, Jefferson Township police will arrive on average in three to five minutes – a very fast time compared to other districts.

Administrators, teachers, students, and parents should all look for suspicious activity and report it to the police. Do not be afraid to say something if you see something. It is better to be safe than sorry.

“The Jefferson Township Police Department is dedicated to security. From police to administrators, were all connected. This is a community effort,” said Officer Kratzel. Milton Tri-School PTA president Heather Racansky said, “I think the school’s plan for safety is common sense security. The police have a great relationship with parents, students, and faculty; they are not afraid to answer questions. As a parent, I am happy with the connectivity.”

As a student at the high school, I was very happy to have this security system implemented. I no longer have to feel helpless in the corner of a dark, quiet classroom. I can now defend myself and flee the scene when told to do so.

If you have any questions about this topic, call the police department 973-697-1300. In the case of an emergency, call 911.

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