A report of loud noises and a suspicious person triggered a lockdown at a local elementary school Tuesday.
It was a false alarm, but the response says something about our schools' readiness in the event of the real thing.
The incident began when two students heard a loud noise and saw a man carrying something near the school. They reported it, the school went into lockdown while it was checked out.
As it turned out the man was a construction worker. The sound, hammering echoing off nearby movie screens.
"it was determined quickly what caused the sound and what caused the lockdown," says Washoe School Police Chief Mike Mieras. "We told parents what was going on and they were very thankful. The kids went to school. Parents when on their way."
An overreaction? Not in his view.
The lockdown amounted to an unplanned, unscheduled drill and it showed everyone from the kids to the school staff to the officers knew what to do and did it.
"It's like fire drills," says Mieras. "We've been doing fire drills in schools since the 30's and now we're doing these kinds of drills. We've been doing them for all these years. It's just like that. They down what to do. They're trained what to do."
In fact, it was almost routine. Lockdowns in our local schools aren't rare. Mieras says most, perhaps 97 percent of them, are triggered by something happening in the neighborhood around the school. A pursuit, an arrest, a domestic dispute, any incident that would dictate keeping kids inside out of harm's way while its resolved.
Lockdowns have also been called in Incline after a bear sighting. In Verdi for a mountain lion.
Mieras says each of our schools is ready. The staff, even the students have been trained.
"We do this all the time. What's great is that we've done so much training with the students and the staff in the schools that they know."
At a time when everyone is nervous about school security, there may be comfort and reassurance in the response to a false alarm.