HPD helps Hawaii's schools prepare for deadly shooting

Phil Bruno
Phil Bruno
Lisa DeLong
Lisa DeLong
Michael Kahakina
Michael Kahakina

WAIKIKI (KHNL) - How safe are Hawaii's schools? That's the question posed at a conference on emergency readiness Thursday afternoon. The Honolulu Police Department put together a scenario on how school officials could deal with a shooting at their campus.

The scenario was very complex and detailed. Hawaii schools have not had the type of shootings we've seen on the mainland, but the goal is to be prepared for it, just in case.

Virginia Tech. Columbine.

Two mainland schools forever linked with shooting massacres that killed 44 people, and injured many others.

"We probably think it's something that's not possible but bringing it into the forefront first and say, you know, this kind of stuff, we have to be prepared for it," said Phil Bruno, a representative of American Renaissance Academy, a private school in Kapolei.

Hawaii's not immune from such incidents. In 1999, a Xerox employee went on a shooting rampage, killing seven of his co-workers.

That's why the Honolulu Police Department put together an extensive scenario using school officials, on how to react to a deadly shooting on their campus.

"It's not a matter of if it's going to happen, it's a matter of when it's going to happen," Michael Kahakina, a Honolulu police officer who is assigned to the leeward side of the island.

Participants learned on how to keep lines of communication open, during a disaster.

"There's no substitute for an actual dramatization like this because you can plan, you can put a lot of information on paper people can study," said Lisa DeLong, Department of Education's leeward district superintendent. "But there's nothing that'll take the place of actually dramatizing an event like we did today."

They went through all the steps: identifying a shooting has occurred, going into lockdown mode, writing down suspect description, and informing others via phone calls and text messages.

"They say the way people respond in practice is the way they'll respond in real life, so it's a good opportunity to have practice sessions that are as close to life as possible," said DeLong.

HPD hopes this becomes a regular habit at Hawaii schools.

"They need to practice that. lockdown drills, fire drills," said Kahakina. "It has to be at least four times a month just so these kids know how important it is."

Participants hope this renewed partnership between police and schools will help minimize harm if a deadly shooting happens on campus.

"I think that every campus can benefit from this type of training," said Bruno.

HPD says this isn't just for school campuses. Corporations can also adopt a similar approach in getting ready for a potential deadly shooting.