The new Safe School Volunteers got a first-hand look into why they are needed after an alert on Thursday at Douglas High School related to an active shooter call in Genoa.
“It’s not a drill,” said Douglas High School Student Safety Campus Monitor Leanora Morgan.
Douglas dispatchers took a call around 11:15 a.m. stating someone was going to start shooting at Sierra Chef in Genoa. Then dispatchers reported hearing what sounded like shots.
At approximately, 11:20 a.m. school officials were directed to have all students, staff, visitors and volunteers indoors and prepared for a “lockout” situation, which secures a campus from a threat that is not immediate to the school but may be a potential threat close enough to pose a safety concern.
That was accompanied by a notice from the school to parents.
“We have learned the hard way that parents want to know these things as soon as possible,” Superintendent Keith Lewis said. “So, we decided to do an auto-dialer to ensure parents knew, and then it was lifted shortly thereafter.”
Douglas County deputies responded from all over the county.
It only took a few minutes to confirm the call was a fake and the alert at the schools was lifted after a short time.
At least two other Nevada school districts in Nevada reported getting similar calls according to Lahontan Valley News. Fallon Police responded to a threat around the same time and Elko County received one just 10 minutes earlier.
A week earlier, on Feb. 9, a Douglas County day care center received a call at 9 a.m. where someone threatened to injure children. Just as nothing was found then, nothing was found Thursday either.
“That’s the thing,” Morgan said, “is they can happen, and it’s not always taken seriously. We can do drills, listen to the news, but it’s always ‘that won’t happen here,’ but it can.”
That’s where the Safe School Volunteers come in to provide an additional layer of support to the existing school safety measures.
Steered by Gardnerville resident Ted Hobbs and partnering with the Douglas County School District and the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, the Safe School volunteers will be stationed at each school in the district, patrolling the entire campus, indoors and out, to spot any suspicious activities, ensure that exterior doors are locked and monitoring students during passing periods, breaks and lunch.
“We have to keep an eye on our community,” said Safe School Volunteer and Zephyr Cove resident Steve Rozier. “As a parent, I want to be involved and be there for the safety of not only my own daughter, but her friends and other students. Times are different.”
When suspicious activity does occur, the volunteer will radio the School Resource Officer assigned to that site and the site administrator.
“The SRO will be provided with information about the suspect, their activities, description, etc. and then the officer will take responsibility of further action while the volunteers move on to further their patrol,” said Hobbs.
Hobbs said the community support is vital for the program’s success.
“Support comes from more community members stepping up to volunteer and to be an active member of the program,” he said. “Right now, we have 22 volunteers, we need more.”
The current volunteers will be placed at Douglas High School as the first school site in the program. Zephyr Cove Elementary School is scheduled to be the next site to receive volunteers.
“The remaining schools in the district will receive community volunteer teams as more community members become available,” said Hobbs. “The goal is to have two teams of two volunteers at each site.”
All volunteers will be trained on procedures and be assigned a school to patrol. Background checks and fingerprints are required to volunteer for the school district. Interested volunteers are encouraged to contact the District’s Hotline at 775-392-2111.
“It’s a great program, but really an opportunity for parents and the community to be a part of the school and to lead by example for the well-being of the kids,” said Rozier.