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Rise in active school shooter threats prompts safety reminder from the state

Hawaii school.png
County of Hawaiʻi
Police responded to an active shooter threat at Keaʻau High School on Hawaiʻi Island in December 2022. The situation ultimately proved to be false.

The amount of active shooter threats in Hawaiʻi schools has risen substantially over the last two years, according to figures from the state's Department of Education.

In a press briefing Tuesday, Superintendent Keith Hayashi said there were 152 threat cases last year, which is up about 40 cases from 2019.

Members of the House education committee discussed what measures the DOE has in place for active shooter situations, as well as responses to other emergencies.

The department's safety and security branch is responsible for Hawaiʻi's public school campuses and offices. Hayashi said the department's Emergency Operations Plan outlines actions the DOE and schools can take.

"Current measures in place include emergency plans at the department's three levels, state offices, complex areas and schools," Hiyashi said. "We also work to mitigate the security challenges associated with our 'Open Campus' schools here in Hawaiʻi by performing vulnerability assessments. "

The department also provides active threat response training for schools and complex areas, he said.

Because most school active shooter incidents occur within 5 to 10 minutes, the state's plan lays out comprehensive guidelines for educators and staff. Major points include:

- The posting of "no trespassing" and "visitors report to the office" signs on the perimeter of the campus
- Conducting lockdown and off campus evacuation drills annually
- Immediately calling 9-1-1 if any suspicious activity occurs
- Taking screenshots of threat sources if they are recognized on social media
- Follow active threat response systems:

  • Run, Hide, Fight
  • Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events (ALERRT CRASE): Avoid, Deny, Defend
  • ALICE: A-Alert; L-Lockdown; I-Inform; C-Counter; E-Escape
  • Alert: A-Assess; l-lockdown; e-evade; r-resist; t-tell

The last time the DOE updated its Emergency Operations Plan was in 2019 and Hiyashi said the department is currently working on a new version.

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