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Bernalillo Public Schools faculty and staff listen as Rio Rancho Officer John Harlan details how schools and police can work together to better protect students should an armed assailant come onto their campuses. Photo credit: —Bill Diven

BPS active shooter—schools preparing for the unthinkable

—Bill Diven

While students took advantage of early dismissal, Bernalillo Public Schools faculty, staff, and administrators gathered to watch perhaps the spookiest video they’ll ever see. The video playing out on a giant screen in the Bernalillo High School gym depicted a young man firing on students with a shotgun, before striding the hallways as students and teachers cowered in locked classrooms.

Most of the damage is done before police arrive but it is still imperative to have a plan, explained Rio Rancho Officer John Harlan, as several hundred men and women reflected in sober silence on bleachers and chairs. Most such episodes in schools and elsewhere last barely ten minutes, and nearly half are over, often with the shooter committing suicide, before the law arrives, he added.

New Mexico is not immune to these attacks, with a recent shooting at a Roswell Middle School and the 2010 shootings that left three dead and four wounded at the Emcore building in Albuquerque.

The afternoon of active-shooter training presented by the Rio Rancho Police Department and the Sandoval County Sheriff’s Office is part of a larger plan to coordinate the just-in-case preparations of law enforcement and public schools.

“Walk around the campus getting into the mindset of, ‘What will I do?’” SCSO Sgt. Roger Kane told the bulk of the district’s 550 employees.

But what to do extends beyond having teachers on alert and prepared to react. Each school should have a safety committee to develop procedures specific to the school, and law enforcement should have copies of those and floor plans of each building. And it’s not just about crime—as anything from a weather emergency to hazardous materials spilling on a highway can move a school into crisis mode even after hours during sports and other events. Kane said that officers, too, have work to do in becoming familiar with the schools they cover and knowing where to find an emergency packet that includes master keys for campus buildings.

“It’s helpful if you have a plan, law enforcement knows your plan, and you know law enforcement’s plan,” Harlan said.

At its core, though, the program is about the students, BPS Superintendent Allan Tapia told his staff. “Should an incident happen, our precious students will be looking to you for guidance and direction,” he said.

After great food and activities, the cub scouts of Pack 708 ready themselves for what lies ahead.
Photo credit: —Suzann Owings

Scouts race into spring

—Suzann Owings

“As you saw last night, what makes a pack succeed is the participation of the parents and extended families,” says Cub Master David Gardner. Mr. Gardner was referring to Pack 708’s Blue and Gold Banquet, filled with people of every age.

Thanks to their fundraising, and a couple of significant donations, none of the scouts has had to pay registration fees this year, and they have most of what’s needed for summer camp.

Pack 708 will send four cub scouts to the District’s Pinewood Derby on March 1. After that, the Pack will concentrate on a different achievement. They will divide the boys by age group into dens of tigers, wolves, bears, and webelos, so they can better complete their scouting advancement.

February was Scout month. They all completed a service projects, competed in Pinewood Derby races, and helped conduct the annual Blue and Gold Banquet. In their “Scouting for Food” project, the boys collected food throughout Bernalillo and Placitas and took the cans to the Roadrunner Food Bank. They have yet another box of food for Casa Rosa.

District Scout Leader Jared DeLeon attended the B&G Banquet and complimented the Pack on achieving such excellence this past year.

Scout meetings continue at Carroll Elementary on Wednesdays at 3:00 p.m., and at Placitas Elementary School on Fridays, also at 3:00 p.m. To find out about the Pack’s next planning meeting and other Pack information, contact David Gardner at 867-4689.

HOBY-NM kickstarts video

The New Mexico Hugh O’Brian Youth (HOBY) Leadership Seminar) recently launched a crowd-funding project for a video documentary hoping to raise more than the five-thousand dollar goal before March 15. They are looking for donations from one-dollar on up.

The video will capture the Leadership Seminar for New Mexico’s “best and brightest” tenth graders, from May 30 to June 1, at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. Participants, speakers, volunteers, alumni, family, and friends of HOBY-NM will be interviewed. Activities will highlighted on the video, including their Leadership for Service project with the New Mexico Special Olympic Games.

For more information, go to and or contact Suzann Owings at 867-0567, or

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