MONTROSE, N.Y. -- Safety is the No. 1 priority in the Hendrick Hudson School District.
Last week, Hen Hud High School held a Hold in Place Emergency Preparedness Drill. The school cooperated with local law enforcement agencies and canine units. The dogs were brought in as part of their training. Required by the safety plan, schools must hold drills and partner with such agencies to prepare for potential emergencies.
This event started with an announcement for students and staff to take all steps necessary to Hold in Place. These drills are routinely practiced as part of the Building and District Safety Plan.
Teachers and students were instructed to remain in their classrooms but were given permission to continue with scheduled instruction. By 9:20 a.m., police had exited the building and began scanning the parking lot surrounding the school. While the external sweep was being conducted, students were not allowed to enter or exit the building. By approximately 9:33 a.m., police had left the campus.
This sequence of events allowed time for four trained canines, along with their law enforcement handlers, and building administrators, to inspect various areas inside and outside of the high school building. Precautions were taken to ensure that students remained at a safe distance from law enforcement and their canine partners.
"It was a pretty standard drill," Schools Superintendent Joseph Hochreiter said. "We went through all our normal protocols. You prepare for things you hope you never need to do."
Hochreiter pointed out these events happen in real life. School districts in Putnam and Dutchess counties recently went on lockdowns as police searched for a suspect in a Long Island shooting.
The Ossining School District recently went on lockout after a home invasion occurred near a school.
"You never really anticipate when you will put these drills into action," Hochreiter said. "Unfortunate incidents like Sandy Hook and Columbine are why you need these drills. Practice makes perfect, everyone understands that."
The drills are also about establishing a better relationship with the State Police in Cortlandt, which Hochreiter said was not strong until recently.
"I'm glad we partnered with them," Hochreiter said. "They had been wanting a better relationship. We did the drills with a minimal disruption to school activities."