School shooting has administrators & police examining security policies

By Maggie Vespa

September 7, 2012 Updated Sep 7, 2012 at 10:09 PM CDT

NORMAL, Ill.-- As students, parents and staff work through the trauma of Friday morning, when a 14 year-old male student opened fire in a classroom, Unit 5 administrators and Normal police are combing through the district's recently revamped emergency policies.

"We believe we did an excellent job in keeping everyone safe today," said Dr. Gary Niehaus, superintendent of Unit 5 schools

Administrators and Normal Police maintain, Friday morning the district did many things right.

"That is why we drill," said Niehaus. "We've done evacuation drills throughout the district, including those at Normal Community."

At a news conference Friday afternoon, they trumpeted the success of Normal Community's three year-old lockdown doors and 200+ security cameras, one of which caught the shooter entering the classroom.

"We had a plan in place," said Normal police chief Rick Bleichner. "Unit 5 and the Normal Police Department had worked through that plan, and that is the main reason why things went as well as they did today."

But both parties admit, the system has imperfections.

They point to its automated emergency phone system, which for many, left messages only on home answering machines.

That meant for hours, parents at work were unaware of the shooting.

"When we do it district-wide, it does only go to one phone," said Niehaus. "We'll change that as well."

Also on the 'to-review' list: the district's backpack policy.

Students are allowed to carry them to class. Authorities say the shooter hid his gun in his.

Metal detectors are also up for discussion.

But Niehaus says above all, open eyes and ears are invaluable.

"I think parents, students and faculty can listen and will listen a lot more and pay attention a lot more, and get this stuff stopped before it happens."

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