Lessons Learned from the Arapahoe High School Shooting

At Campus Safety Conference East this summer, Guy Grace from Littleton Public Schools will discuss his experience in responding to a shooting that occurred on one of his district’s campuses.

In the wake of recent incidents of school violence, K-12 schools around the country have invested heavily in their security infrastructures, access control, and human resources needed to keep students and staff safe and secure. In 2013, a school shooting took place at Arapahoe High School in Littleton, Co. Guy Grace, director of security and emergency planning for Littleton Public Schools, was a responder to the shooting and was on the scene as school district incident command coordinator during the event and the subsequent evacuation of the school.

Grace will be presenting A Look at a School Shooting From the Perspective of a Security Director at the Campus Safety Conference East, which will take place in Washington, D.C., July 25-26.

Grace began providing district security services to Littleton Public Schools in 1990, and had previously served in the military and studied criminal justice and human resources. Exposed to school security as a contract private security officer providing services to a school district in his hometown, Grace has received numerous awards and recognition for his service and creativity. 

In this Q&A, Grace discusses some of his key observations and experiences during the Arapahoe High School shooting and previews his Campus Safety Conference session.

Campus Safety:  Why did you feel it was important to discuss school shootings from your perspective?

Grace:  As someone who was called upon to respond to a school shooting, I should first point out that the likelihood of this happening is very, very low. However, as a school security director, we need to be prepared for all types of hazards and emergencies. Through this session, I really want to share my experience, my perspectives on what went right and what went wrong, and discuss some of the related issues that people don’t always think about beforehand.

Campus Safety:  What do you hope attendees will take away from this session?

Grace:  That maybe if they hear this right from me they’ll be able to get some firsthand knowledge that they can use in their own schools and districts. Ultimately, I would hope they could use that information to be more prepared if a similar event took place at those districts. I’d also like to help them realize that while you can prepare, prepare, prepare…there will still many things that can arise that you weren’t prepared for in advance.

Campus Safety:  Can you give us an example of an unknown that arose during or after the Arapahoe High School incident?

Grace:  Well, we’ve had a lot of political ramifications around the school shooting that have had to do with mental health issues. I’ll discuss this during my presentation, but I would also like to emphasize the point that there would have been more casualties during the event had our staff and students not responded the way that they did. They did their lockdown drills, they took it very seriously, and they applied our “shelter, run, shelter, aid, descend” concept. Had they not responded the way that they did during the initial eight seconds, the situation would have been much worse than it already was.

Campus Safety:  How will your presentation help them manage these and other issues?

Grace:  We’ll look at how staff, students and districts reacted to the active shooter incident and how they prepared for the “all hazards” emergencies at the time. I’ll also provide a checklist of the security, emergency management and communication technologies that were helpful and in place during the incident. Finally, we’ll review some of the general improvements that were made to security and emergency preparedness areas in the aftermath of the shooting. This will help attendees not only recognize the “gaps” that exist at their districts, but it will also help them benchmark against their peers.

The third annual Campus Safety Conferences are education and training events for anyone who has a stake in ensuring the public safety and security of our nation’s schools, universities, and colleges. Taking place in Washington, D.C. July 25-26, and Long Beach, Calif., Aug. 9-10, the conferences provide full-day training workshops, a campus police chief and a K-12 safety panel, dozens of conference sessions, and more than 35 companies showcasing their products, services, and technologies.

To register for the Campus Safety Conferences, visit CampusSafetyConference.com. Guy Grace will be speaking at CSC East, K-12 Track, on July 26.