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A safe school and community is the greatest gift of all

• Dec 14, 2018 at 2:00 PM

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! So, you’re probably asking, “Why write about school safety now?”

You have a point — in a season of joy and love, why think about something as unthinkable as a school or community tragedy? Because having a safe school — and a safe community — is truly the greatest gift of all.

When there is an active violence event anywhere in the United States, school personnel are always asked about our plans and preparations. Then those questions fade away as the news cycle moves on to other topics and issues.

We, however, do not move on. We — school administration, law enforcement, first responders and more — continue to plan and prepare for the worst-case scenario. What does that mean? Much of our focus is on active violence scenarios, which are sadly a part of the our current culture and climate. We would absolutely prefer to work on different issues, but ensuring that we are prepared is vital.

While there is not room here to share all of the protocols and measures in place or planned, I can assure you that we are doing everything we can, both locally and regionally, to prevent a tragedy. However, we all know that the best plans do not add up to a guarantee. We must all be relentless advocates for safe schools and safe communities — it takes all of us doing the work. That work begins with a simple reminder: if you see something, say something. Have an awareness of your surroundings, whether you’re at a school event, out to eat, or at the annual Coast Guard Festival.

While my friends and colleagues in law enforcement are trained in this awareness as part of their career, it’s an important skill for all of us to develop.

How can you learn more? Keep an eye out for C.R.A.S.E. training — Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events. Both the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office and the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety offer trainings. It’s just one more way to work together for a better, safer world.

It is truly the most wonderful time of the year, and I’m so thankful for the gift of our safe schools and community. Best wishes to all for a joyous holiday season!

About the writer: Andy Ingall is the superintendent for Grand Haven Area Public Schools.

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