School security incident causes review of procedures

John Rohlf, Staff Writer
Posted 11/17/22

After a minor security incident at Black Hawk Middle School in Warrenton, the Warren County R-III School District is looking to improve its process for controlling access to district …

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School security incident causes review of procedures

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After a minor security incident at Black Hawk Middle School in Warrenton, the Warren County R-III School District is looking to improve its process for controlling access to district buildings.

District Superintendent Gregg Klinginsmith sent a mass notification to families immediately after the incident occurred on Nov. 8. According to the notification, an individual walked into the middle school after he was buzzed in by staff, and left a note that the Federal Bureau of Investigations was watching him. The individual then left the school. The School Resource Officer was notified and was able to quickly identify the individual, at which time the SRO recommended everyone at Black Hawk Middle School and Daniel Boone Elementary School stay inside until the individual was secured, Klinginsmith said. 

The individual was secured by law enforcement officers several minutes later and the school day returned to normal, officials said.

“They decided to get everybody inside because of past history … that the police officer had,” Klinginsmith later told The Record. “And they just decided the safest thing, when we don’t know what’s going to happen here, is let’s just keep everyone inside until we make sure it’s secure and safe.”

Klinginsmith stressed that the safety of the students and staff is the district’s top priority. He said that as a result of the situation, the district is making improvements to its security protocols. Law enforcement will share photos of known individuals who could be a potential threat with the school district, and the district is also working to increase security to the buildings if the buzzer system is breached. Klinginsmith said this will create a second security checkpoint for anyone trying to access the main section of the building. 

“This has opened our eyes to maybe some weaknesses in our system,” Klinginsmith said. “We’re thankful that nothing happened in this event. But it does raise attention to how we could probably do things better. And so what we’re going to be doing is trying to put in some additional security checkpoints where people actually have to talk to real people before they can enter the building.”

Under the improved protocols, a visitor will need to interact with a person before entering the office space. The district is in the process of ordering hardware to make the buildings more secure. 

 Klinginsmith and district staff hope the new system eliminates the opportunity for human error. 

“We’re in the process of making more secure entrances in all of our buildings,” Klinginsmith said. “You can probably start seeing that in the next couple weeks, I would imagine. As soon as we can get the supplies, we’ll get them installed. And then we’ll be reconfiguring our office spaces so people will not be entering the office.”

Klinginsmith stressed in situations like the one last week, the district takes direction from law enforcement. District staff notify law enforcement if they see something out of the ordinary or strange. 

“We have a great relationship with our police department,” Klinginsmith said. “I can’t thank them enough for their quick action and decisiveness to keep kids safe.”

Black Hawk Middle School, Warren County School District, Security

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