To the Whitehouse Community:
With the tragic events which occurred in Uvalde, Texas this past week, the Whitehouse public safety departments wish to address the growing concerns related to us by citizens, and to reassure our community that the safety and security of all who live, work, and visit the Village of Whitehouse are of the utmost importance. We would like to identify some areas of how we would address a similar incident should it occur here.
Please be assured we have trained for these types of circumstances and will continue to do so. We have members on both the Whitehouse Police and Fire Departments that are instructors in active shooter and rescue task force training. The members of the Police Department have trained for years in active shooter response since 1999 after the events at Columbine, and we’ve trained every year since that time. We recently trained at Anthony Wayne High School with local, county, state and federal law enforcement and local fire service personnel. We train on best practices using classroom instruction and scenario-based training. In fact, this week our officers will be training on the firearms simulator with area law enforcement agencies in the Anthony Wayne area.
Our officers are trained not to wait for back-up but to go into a building and engage any active shooter threat. As we’ve learned from past incidents, we have evolved from our old tactics of waiting for additional officers.
The chain of command rests with the chiefs of both the Whitehouse Police and Fire Departments. The Police Department will coordinate the law enforcement response, and our Fire Department will address the FD/EMS response. In addition, we would be calling for mutual aid response and resources with area police and fire agencies, Ohio BCI, and our federal law enforcement partners. We have written Memorandums of Understanding (MUOs) for mutual aid response. Once the threat is neutralized/suspect(s) are in custody, we would most likely turn the crime scene over to federal and state law enforcement officials and work in tandem with them to conduct the criminal investigation.
After studying and speaking with our counterparts where these incidents have occurred, we understand there will be parents coming to the scene to retrieve their children. As parents ourselves, we understand and have plans for this. We will utilize as many first responders and school staff as possible to address communication, logistics and other notifications for our parents, including transportation of the injured to medical facilities, and reunification location(s) for students and parents. We will utilize all available resources to communicate with the public including the school’s communication systems, local media, and any other means available to get information to all as quickly as possible.
We understand that any parent/concerned citizen with a gun will be showing up-this has been the issue at other jurisdictions that have been involved in active shooter incidents at schools. The police at those locations received multiple reports of people in civilian clothing with guns coming to the scene-which could lead to tragic circumstances. We urge our citizens not to show up trying to get in the scene with a gun, for the reasons stated above. The affected location will be locked down and no one will have physical access to the building-it is a crime scene, and we will do whatever it takes to control that scene-to provide life-saving treatment to victims, preserve evidence for investigators for potential prosecution of the offender, and for the safety of our first responders and investigators. We understand the hysteria and chaos a situation like this will cause, and we will have systems in place to assist families. We will be relying on school staff, local authorities, and county service agencies to assist with information and notifications.
We will utilize the services of county and state social services agencies to assist parents and families showing up at the scene and there will be a command post established to address this and a myriad of other issues that will come our way. Protocols are also in place for the dissemination of information.
The Fire Department will be working with EMS personnel and local hospitals to address patient care, recovery, and recording of victim names and locations of transportation.
Safety service forces with the Village have been working with Anthony Wayne School administration, federal and state partners, area police and fire personnel to create safety plans for our schools for both natural and man-made disasters. It’s required by state law, and these plans are reviewed at least annually and as situations warrant. We completed a review just a few weeks ago.
Anthony Wayne Schools have taken the safety of faculty, staff, and students very seriously-with increased physical security of their buildings, increased and updated video cameras and other security features. They are doing what they can to address safety concerns-including notifying our School Resourced Officer to partner with administrator’s to address issues on campus as they arise-both day and night! Our School Resource Officer is also trained in tactics needed to address active threats, as well as other techniques to identify and mitigate potential threats before they occur.
It is imperative that we have the cooperation of those in the Anthony Wayne community to help us identify and mitigate potential threats before they happen. The phrase, “See Something, Say Something” is the first line of defense in these situations. Students and parents are advised to let law enforcement know if they come across any communication that appears threatening in nature, or if they have any question regarding its content.
To contact the Whitehouse Police Department for emergencies, please call 911. To report situations needing police response, please call 419-255-8443.
The Safer Ohio School Tip Line is a free safety resource available to all Ohio schools. The tip line is an anonymous reporting system that accepts both calls and texts 24 hours-a-day. This tip line allows students and adults to anonymously share information with school officials and law enforcement about threats to student safety — whether that involves a threatened mass incident or harm to a single student.
Things to report to the tip line include (but are not limited to):
Every tip can remain anonymous. School safety analysts may ask for additional information, but the caller can remain secret or leave his or her contact information for later follow-up.
Calls or texts to 844-SaferOH (844-723-3764) are answered by analysts within Ohio Homeland Security. If action is needed, the analysts immediately forwards information to local school officials, law enforcement agencies and the Ohio School Safety Center (OSSC) for action and follow up.
The OSSC partners with the Ohio Department of Education to follow up with affected school and law enforcement agencies to make sure that the incident is investigated, action is taken, and resources and supports are provided when necessary.
We will do our best to address the concerns of our community members and families-we know you need answers and look to us as experts to know we are taking these matters seriously, to assuage your fears as best we can, and as first responders are ready to do what is necessary to stop any active threat and to save lives.
Chief Mark McDonough Chief Joshua Hartbarger
Whitehouse Police Department Whitehouse Fire Department