PALM DESERT – Security guards keep a close eye on the students of Palm Desert High School. Even though the chances for a nightmare scenario are extremely small, these guards are ready for the worst.
Desert Sands Unified School District Chief Jeff Kaye says Columbine was merely a wake-up call to change the way situations like the tragic day on April 20, 1999 were dealt with.
“Columbine changed everything as far as law enforcement and school security,” said Kaye.”Law enforcement’s response prior to Columbine was to sit back and negotiate. After Columbine, law enforcement realized there’s a different breed of criminal that is not interested in making it through to the end. They’re not interested in negotiating.”
The security chief says more than two dozen threats have happened district-wide this year.
Deputies train to strike quick and with deadly force if there’s a shooter on campus. They won’t wait to act as they used to do before Columbine. But, before it gets to that point, these guards interact with the children, working leads to get information on threats much like detectives.
“You get involved with the kids, find out what they’re into, go to their events. It’s a big help,” security guard Fred Leegerexplains.
“The biggest thing with [Columbine shooters] Klebold and Harris is that they talked about this, they already had it planned. Other people knew about it, but they didn’t come forward. We know in our school district a protocol where kids can call these tips in somebody know. Let security know, let a teacher know, and law enforcement follows up in every one of those tips,” explained Kaye.