School Safety Today: Perspectives from a Former First Responder Now Private School Safety Director

Student safety has been a major topic in the last few years as more violent acts have occurred on school grounds. While some of it happens after school hours, student safety is still under threat, and the ways we combat this danger has room to improve. So how are schools ensuring student safety and improving their ways of maintaining a safe space for all?

On this episode of School Safety Today, host Michelle Dawn Mooney speaks with Chris Hendrickson of Las Vegas, Nevada. Hendrickson was a responding officer to the Route 91 Harvest Festival massacre in 2017;  this traumatic event  made Hendrickson think better methods can be used for managing accountability during a crisis.

“Because of the chaotic nature of that event, there was a lot of people that were considered missing for a long period of time, and there really wasn’t an easy way to account for those event participants,” says Hendrickson. “If law enforcement was afforded the ability to get the information from the ticket sales, we could have at least been able to create a list of who was there, who had left, and who was missing at that time.”

Topics discussed in this episode include:

  1. How to improve accountability in a crisis situation
  2. Proactive safety measures in place on school grounds as well as offsite events
  3. Establishing a chain of communication for emergency response

More recently, Hendrickson has become the Director of Safety and Security at The Alexander Dawson School independent private school in Las Vegas. On ensuring student safety, Hendrickson stated, “We have upgraded our security and surveillance systems a lot since I’ve started. We’ve added more cameras, more analytical cameras, AI for our surveillance systems; we conduct regular drills to increase that muscle memory for taking accountability and knowing where to go and how to do certain things in the drill.” He continued by adding, “And we do consistent training for our security staff, whether it be in just normal response or active shooter or responding to an irate parent, for example, we do a lot of different training.”

Chris Hendrickson was an Army Squad Leader in the U.S. Army for over ten years; in-between he received his B.A. from the University of Nevada and was a police officer for the Henderson Police Department. He is currently the Director of Safety and Security for the Alexander Dawson School.

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