Unfortunately, acts of school rampage violence are not unfamiliar to our society. As a matter of fact, they have been happening for years — long before Columbine. From each incident, both the schools and law enforcement learn valuable lessons. We will learn many lessons from the tragic school shooting in Florida. We write this letter as a joint effort between the Valparaiso Police Department and the Valparaiso Community Schools to help explain the strength of our partnership, and the safety measures we take to help keep our students, staff, and community as safe as possible.
We are proud of our continued partnership that has grown even stronger under our leadership. This relationship is made even stronger with the partnership of Sheriff Reynolds and the Porter County Safe Schools Commission.
The Porter County Safe Schools Commission implemented two important safety protocols: first, SchoolGuard which is an app that alerts both 911 and all on and off duty officers when an active incident is taking place; second, One County One Protocol which is a safety response protocol that has been implemented throughout our county to bring all law enforcement and schools together on how to react in an emergency.
The Valparaiso Community Schools currently has 15 certified Indiana School Safety Specialists. We have four training this year to include Chief Balon, Valparaiso Police Department, and Assistant Chief Biggs, Porter County Sheriff. We already have a list started for staff who will be trained next year. As a rule, it is unusual that a police chief and an assistant chief are asked, let alone accept, to be trained. Because we have an excellent relationship, and because we keep our lines of communication open and focused on school safety, we are an exception to the rule.
In addition to the aforementioned partnerships and on-going communication, the Valparaiso Community School leadership team has also implemented several safety measures. Through the building projects being done, every school will have a secure entry, and greater visibility of visitors entering the buildings. Upgraded cameras, and the sharing of access to the cameras with law enforcement will enhance our current video surveillance system.
We feel it is important for everyone to feel confident in the important relationship between the Valparaiso Community Schools and the Valparaiso Police Department. We can assure you, our leadership will continue to work together to keep our students, staff, and community safe.