Upon returning to class this spring you may have noticed the new and improved safety and emergency procedures hung in each classroom. If not, it’s vital you take a look around, for this information could one day save your life. As I sat down with Mark Eaton, director of Safety here at East Central College, I felt relieved knowing people like him are adamantly working to keep all of us here informed and safe.

“If an emergency plan is going to be a good it is one that is never complete. You are constantly updating and trying to keep up with what is being recommended by the professionals that’s are in law enforcement and mental health,” Eaton said.

Eaton discussed with me the college’s close work with the Union Police Department in assuring our safety here at the college and across all schools located in Franklin County. Kevin Anderson, school emergency director at Union Police Department, brought upon the new use of The Standard Response Protocol, which was founded and formed by the foundation, “i love you guys”.

The interesting name, “i love you guys” stemmed from the founder’s own personal tragedy. According to the i love you guys foundation’s website on September 27th, 2006 a gunman entered Platte County High School, held several students hostage, and killed a girl by the name of Emily Keyes. She was able to send one final text as she was held hostage to her parents saying, “I love you guys”.

This personal tragedy sparked the creation of a wonderful foundation that provides resources and information on keeping schools, including our own, safe today.

The bright blue folders in each classroom contain multiple tools in how to deal with not only active shooters on campus, but other emergency situations as well. The information comes separated into four categories: Lockout, Lockdown, Evacuate, and Shelter. The folder also comes complete with signs alerting someone outside of the classroom if an individual or group is in need of help, medical attention or if the classroom is safe from the intruder or disaster. It even includes a sheet used to track students who are present or may be missing.

With all of these new procedures in place we may begin to feel safe and sound within the halls of our school, but we must never become complacent.  We have to be aware that we need to constantly be learning and aware of our surroundings.

Eaton said, “I try to promote it and talk about it and engage in a conversation about it on a daily basis because I do not want us to become complacent.”

With all of this being said you may begin to wonder what the situation will be like if our school accepts the new conceal and carry legislation that would allow faculty and students to conceal and carry on campus. Eaton, a proponent of the 2nd Amendment, competitive shooter, and owner of a conceal and carry permit, stated that he is not sure if he could ever endorse conceal and carry for just about everybody. There is general worry amongst many students and faculty that this would not contribute to our safety, but possibly make us more susceptible to danger.

“Many of your 2nd Amendment activists will be the first to tell you that it is their constitutional right to conceal and carry, but I prefer to think of it as a privilege to be able to do that.  And it is one that should not be taken lightly,” Eaton said.

With the possibility of this legislation being passed in our future we must become aware of the possible effects it could potentially have within our schools.

“I think there needs to be a means of checks and balances in place to make sure that those that are had the proper safety training, they’ve been given the proper education, and that they just can’t take it lightly. They should be required to take renewals,”  Eaton said.

We may be a bit away from seeing whether this gun legislator passes or not, but I believe as a student body we can rest assured knowing that faculty members like Mark Eaton are working diligently to keep us safe in any situation.

Any questions toward HB 1899 can be directed to State Rep. Jered Taylor: Jered.Taylor@house.mo.gov

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