School Staffers as Negotiators

By  | 

RENO, Nev.- Earlier this week a man, dressed all in black and armed with an AK-47 and hundreds of rounds of ammunition snuck into an Atlanta elementary school. Police say it could have been another Newtown if not for the bravery of a bookkeeper.

Antoinette Tuff had no training in hostage negotiation, but she's being hailed a hero after talking down a man with a gun. There's no doubt, the employees inside a school are the primary buffer between our kids and a madman.

"I can help you, let me talk to them and let's see if we can work it out so that you don't have to go away with them for a long time," Tuff was overheard saying to the gunman while on a 9-1-1 phone call to police.

Antoinette Tuff negotiated for her life, and countless others Tuesday.

"She did the right things in telling the young man, no harm is going to come to you if you lay down your weapon," said mike Mieras, Washoe County Schools Police Chief.

He says staffers are not taught hostage negotiation, but are trained how to act in a critical incident.

"We go through and we teach emergency management to all of our schools, all of our school administrators. We do go in and teach active assailant training in our schools as well," said Mieras

Safety is the number one goal in Washoe schools, procedures help ensure that.

One of the great things about Washoe County Schools, is they all have single points of entry, and behind everyone of those single entry doors is a school staffer, someone like Antoinette Tuff that could be the person that makes the difference.

Tuff: i have never been so scared in all the days of my life...
911: but you did great.
Tuff: oh jesus.
911: you did great.

"I would think that we have individuals in everyone of our schools that would step up and do the same thing that occurred in Atlanta," said Mieras.

The hope of course is that such an incident never happens and those heros are never discovered.

Washoe County Schools have an extensive emergency management plan that dictates how they should act, but like in Atlanta, it allows for improvising and adapting to a critical incident.