Campus Safety: What is SLS Doing to Protect our Students?

Kate Hammer, Staff Writer

In light of the recent swattings across the nation, the SLS security team wants St. Luke’s to know that we are one of the most prepared schools when it comes to campus safety.

All across the country schools have been receiving calls that induce panic among students, faculty, and family. The calls, referred to as swatting calls, either falsely report an active shooter or a bomb threat, sending schools into lockdown for hours. Though this is not the first time these types of prank calls have occurred, the concern that provoked FBI involvement is the frequency of these calls, and the pandemonium that ensues.

According to WIRED Media, there were over 90 swatting calls spanning 16 states during a three-week period in September. 

In Connecticut alone, there have been over a dozen swatting calls about schools in many towns, including East Hartford, Norwich, Darien, Westport, Stamford, Bridgeport, and Windham. All of the schools that received calls were public, with some schools having almost 2,000 kids in attendance. 

Though none of the swatted schools in the U.S. were private, the idea of being subject to one of these calls is enough to induce fear across SLS. However, the SLS Security team would like to let everyone know that in the event of any type of emergency, we will be prepared. 

To provide more insight into the security team’s plans, Mr. Rodney Vining, the newest addition to the team, recently sat down for an interview. Mr. Vining is a former Desert Shield Marine, retired Bridgeport firefighter, and former public safety trainer and supervisor for Yale and Hartford Health. He answered a few questions on what the security team says about safety at SLS as well as what students and faculty can do to best feel prepared. 

In the interview, Mr. Vining said that St. Luke’s is incredibly safe, safer than many would think after only “scratching the surface” of our safety protocols during his first weeks here. 

Mr. Vining presented on behalf of the SLS security team the idea of slowly training the people of St. Luke’s to quickly and safely respond to a threat. They want to make the response muscle memory and second nature. Mr. Vining said, “We [Ms. Nano, Ms. Ferguson, and I]  want lockdown drills to be as comfortable as fire drills…they are both threats and should be met with the same amount of confidence.”

This may seem daunting and scary, but fear – a natural response-  doubles as a form of encouragement for action. “[We] don’t want our training to be something that scares you in an unhealthy way; [we] want it to scare you in a healthy way. [We] want it to scare you in a way where your heart beats a little faster, where your adrenaline starts pumping.” This adrenaline rush might just be the push you need in a high-pressure situation. Therefore, though these situations may be frightening, it is important that SLS meets all threats with confidence and composure.

However, it is also important to note that an active shooter threat is not the only danger that could occur in a school day. Therefore, St. Luke’s is constantly making strides to improve our safety. As Mr. Vining states, “[The security team is] constantly scheduling meetings, getting things measured, talking to people.” 

The security team wants the community to be involved too! When asked how the SLS community can share their safety concerns, Mr. Vining explained that it is important to “keep open communications with parents – that if you have an issue or concern we talk it out A to Z.” 

As for students, the changes will start with information on protocols being relayed in town or class meetings, and drills will likely become more frequent. Clearly, the SLS security team is making an effort to make our transition to a safer school as open as possible.

It is also worth mentioning that Mr. Vining is not doing this alone. We have people on our security team that SLS students see on a daily basis. Ms. Nano Saulnier is the leader of our security team (A.K.A. the Director of Campus Safety) while also being the Director of Campus Events. Ms. Nano has been at St. Luke’s for a number of years and is a large part of the school and community. Because of her familiarity with St. Luke’s, the school should be confident and comfortable knowing that everything must be approved by her before it is put into action. Another friendly face that is a part of the security team is Ms. Kinsey Ferguson, our Front Desk Supervisor who is also new to SLS this year. We additionally have a wonderful team of people who handle the traffic at the beginning and end of the school; the security team covers all possibilities and are all extremely capable people.

It is evident that St. Luke’s is incredibly prepared for any possible threat, and the safety of students is a top priority.