“You might see us walk into fights, but if it’s a school shooter, we’re going to run,” said SRO (School Resource Officer) Johnny Larios.
Each day, members of T.C.’s security team monitor the school in an effort to keep students and staff safe. Last year, 2018 marked the record high for school shootings in America at 97 incidents.
Every day, SROs Johnny Larios and Gary Argueta make it their personal mission to protect students and staff from this danger.
T.C. is required to hold four lockdown drills every school year — and there’s a reason. In 2019 already, there have been recorded eight school shootings according to the New York Times. Larios said, “We are ready if it happens, we hope it never happens, but we are ready.”
Officer Argueta said, “Security will notify us on the radio ASAP [if there is a shooter].” Since the officers know their way around the school, they can get to the shooter’s location very fast.
The daily work of securing the school is fairly extensive. “There are 36 doors in this school [that we] make sure are closed at all times,” said Larios, “but we have security that makes their rounds too.”
There is another officer that drives around outside every day. “He controls the perimeter, [so] if we hear anything, we’ll have him check it out immediately,” said Argueta.
If T.C. ever experiences a shooter situation, the administration has adopted a new strategy than the traditional method of sitting against a wall adjacent to the door.
The newly instated program is ALiCE (Alert Lockdown Inform Counter Evacuate) Training; it is designed to teach civilians how to respond to an active shooter scenario. Larios said, “I like it better than the previous [protocol] of hiding under the desk. [But], the final step is fight and I hope the kids are prepared to do that because it will save lives.”
There has been debate about teachers receiving guns as a source of defense if there is ever an intruder.
“Teachers? Bring armed? No.” Said Larios. “I think that security officers or previous police officers that have military training [can], but not teachers.”
Even though the number of shootings in 2018 exceeded the number of weeks in the year, the likelihood of there being a shooting at T.C. is very remote.
On the other hand, fights and conflict among students remains a frequent issue SROs encounter.
Argueta said, “By the time we get there, security [usually] has it broken up.” If the situation is not resolved by then, “we grab the first [person] we see and if they don’t calm down, then we put them in handcuffs.” Last school year, “we had to [pull out handcuff] at least seven times because there were kids who were trespassing and trying to start fights here.”
Violence comes in many forms whether it be the actions of a gunman or a scuffle amongst students. Either way, Larios and Argueta are motivated by the destruction past shootings have had on other schools and are determined to make sure T.C. Williams does not become one of them.