Sherriff, Chief address campus safety
Sean Ruggles
Clark County Sheriff Jason Watson discusses school safety and crisis response with staff members at Peake Elementary School.

Arkadelphia Police Chief Al Harris joined Watson at a PES staff meeting to talk campus safety.

Watson, Harris join teachers to discuss campus crisis response

Clark County Sheriff Jason Watson and Arkadelphia Police Chief Al Harris spoke at Peake Elementary School's Wednesday staff meeting. The discussion centered on law enforcement’s responses in a crisis situation on a school campus, including an active-shooter scenario. Watson and Harris also visited with Central Primary School staff this week, and will return to Arkadelphia Public School campuses soon to talk with students, too.

Watson talked through several different scenarios, including a summary of what staff members’ actions should be in each situation. Watson repeatedly assured staff members that law enforcement arrival after being notified of any emergency situation at an APSD campus would be quick.

"We're going to come running, I promise that,” Watson said, “and in a community this size, our response will be very fast.”

According to Watson, numerous officers would be on the scene within a matter of minutes after receiving a 911 call from any school campus in the Arkadelphia Public Schools.

“Our initial officer will be here in one to two minutes,” Watson said, “And they aren’t waiting on anyone else. They will enter the building immediately and work as quickly as they can to locate and neutralize any threats.”

Watson also noted that after a school staff member called 911, that staff member should remain on the phone with the dispatcher.

Watson and Harris said that a response would be a joint effort of officers from the Clark County Sheriff’s office and Arkadelphia Police Department, allowing for the arrival of maximum manpower.

Watson and Harris answered questions from the teachers and provided several suggestions for how to improve the campus’ crisis response plan. Both men reiterated the importance of maintaining safe and secure campuses day-to-day, staff members constantly being aware of their surroundings and utilizing lockdown drills, a practice already in place in the APSD. Watson and Harris emphasized complete cooperation from school staff with the officers’ commands, while also doing their best to stay calm. Staff members were also invited and encouraged to attend law enforcement training when the officers are rehearsing in APSD facilities.

The procedures for those visiting any APSD campus were also discussed. Any visitor on an APSD campus must check-in at the main office immediately upon arrival, receive a visitor’s nametag, and visibly wear their nametag for their entire time on campus.

“Teachers have the hardest jobs,” Watson said. “I openly support this community's teachers and want to do anything I can to make your jobs easier. We train, and pray to God none of this ever happens, but if it does, we are prepared. We review our procedures on this weekly."

Watson said that his office is also in the process of trying to procure first-aid kits appropriate for treating severe wounds for every classroom in the county and providing the training necessary to use the supplies. Any parties interested in helping fund the project should contact the Clark County Sheriff’s Office at 870-246-2222. 


Arkadelphia Public Schools serves more than 2,000 students in Clark County, Arkansas, ranging from 6-weeks-old through college- and career-readiness - and is home of the Arkadelphia Promise.

APS News   sean.ruggles@arkadelphiaschools.org

(originally published Jan, 2013)