Stanford lockdown drill leads to controversy

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STANFORD, Ky. (WKYT) - Stanford Police showed up unannounced at Stanford Elementary for a surprise lockdown drill on Wednesday morning. Officers with guns went throughout the school, in what they call rapid deployment. The police chief tells WKYT that these drills are important to make sure they're ready to respond in an emergency. Others, though, were upset.

Police say the drill went fine and they posted some pictures to Facebook. That's when some of the controversy began. Some people commented that parents should be aware of these drills. Others said that they didn't think the children should be exposed to firearms.

"I have my personal opinion I think the guns just make people nervous but the police have explained to me that they need to practice with their weapons just as we practice with our tools," said Karen Hatter, Lincoln County Schools Superintendent.

Stanford Police chief Keith Middleton says the idea during a drill like this is for the students to take cover in their classrooms. He says they shouldn't ever actually see the officers and their weapons. They say notifying people about the drills would defeat the purpose.

"If it had been a real emergency, we wouldn't be notified. The police department has the philosophy that they would like drills unannounced so they can see how to prepare and make a judgment about how prepared we really are," Hatter said.

WKYT contacted John Akers, Executive Director at the Kentucky Center for School Safety. He released the following statement about Wednesday's drill:

"The Kentucky Center for School safety advocates that schools practice the four major emergency responses drills on a regular basis. These drills include: fire drills (monthly), severe weather, lockdown and earthquake drills during the first 30 days of school and again in January. The Kentucky Center for School Safety encourages school officials and first responders to work cooperatively to insure safe learning environments. Regarding full scale drills or exercises: Full scale drills in a school setting, that include first responders, should be well-planned in advance making certain that all parties (school officials and appropriate first responders) are aware of the pending exercise. In addition, when scheduling a full scale drill/exercise, the age or grade level of the students must be taken into consideration. When appropriate, full scale drills/exercises (such as active shooter drills) should be conducted when students are not present in the building."

Stanford Police say they've been doing these drills for more than seven years.

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