Jefferson County Schools

School safety training facility opens in Jeffco

Center will hep police train for active-shooter situations

Posted 4/24/17

On the day before the 18-year anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting, Jefferson County Public Schools dedicated a training facility where law enforcement agencies and other first responders can prepare for active shooter situations, learn …

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Jefferson County Schools

School safety training facility opens in Jeffco

Center will hep police train for active-shooter situations

Posted

On the day before the 18-year anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting, Jefferson County Public Schools dedicated a training facility where law enforcement agencies and other first responders can prepare for active shooter situations, learn crisis prevention techniques in a real-school environment and use a simulator that offers interactive training for a variety of school threat scenarios.

The Frank DeAngelis Center for Community Safety, named after former Columbine High Principal Frank DeAngelis, is located at the Martensen Elementary School building, 6625 45th Place in Wheat Ridge.

Martensen opened in 1954 and closed to students in 2011. The facility now serves Jeffco Public Schools safety and security staff, local police and fire departments, other school district security departments, and has also hosted training for the Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms and the FBI. Seventeen agencies have booked 157 days of training at the facility for the 2016-17 school year.

“The dedication is a reminder of the importance of continuous work towards school safety and security,” said Diana Wilson, chief communications officer for Jeffco Schools. “We all want to keep our kids safe, but we also know we can't do that alone as a school district.”

On April 20, 1999, 12 students and one teacher died and 20 were injured whentwo teens went on a shooting spree at Columbine High School in Littleton. At the time, the crime was the worst school shooting in U.S. history.

The training facility is a result of partnerships with the school district, Jefferson County Sheriff's Office and individual police departments in Jefferson County.

“This is a one-of-a-kind facility in the United States,” said Steve Bell, chief operating officer of Jeffco Schools. “If there's one out there that's something like this, we can't find it.”

The training facility is the vision of John McDonald, executive director of safety, security and emergency planning for Jeffco Schools.

“Between 1982 and 2010, our school district has had three school shootings,” McDonald said. “Between 1999 and 2016, the state of Colorado has had seven school shootings. Too many, too much, no more. This facility offers us a place to train. This facility provides a different kind of education. This is where tactics are learned, strategies discussed and egos are checked at this door.”

In 2006, Emily Keyes was killed at Platte Canyon High School during a hostage situation. To honor her memory, the training room at Martensen was named the Emily Keyes, I Love You Guys training room. "I love you guys," was the text she sent her parents minutes before she died.

McDonald said that when he started thinking about the community and resiliency that has surrounded Jeffco over the years, he thought of DeAngelis.

“Frank has been one of my heroes and he is also a mentor and friend,” McDonald said. “I've seen him in the middle of crisis and I've seen the grief and burden he carries — and the strength that he carries it with.”

DeAngelis represents hope, McDonald said, and so does the training facility. So it was only natural to name it after him.

“This building is a reminder of all those lives lost," McDonald said, "and all those lives we will save in the future.”

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